Prevent Injury When Using A Punching Bag
I recently joined a new gym. It’s an old-school neighborhood gym. It’s got some squat racks, some old machines, a lot of iron weights. It’s got enough cardio machines to keep folks from complaining. The gym isn’t anything fancy and honestly the best thing about it is how close it is to my house. But one thing this gym has is a punching bag. Seeing the punching bag in there when I took the tour of the gym got me pumped!
I used to train at a boxing gym before I got injured. After my injury I took some time off to heal and then mainly stuck to weight lifting rather than picking up another martial art. I definitely miss certain aspects of a good boxing gym. I never sweated as hard as I have in a boxing gym. So I was very excited to see the punching bag hanging in my new gym.
The gym even provides some ratty old boxing gloves for its members to use. Pretty sweet. I’ve seen a few folks using the bag. The thing that struck me when seeing these folks using the bag is how they clearly do not know how to punch properly. There aren’t kids who don’t know anything about gym safety. These are guys who have great form when lifting weights. They are the types of people who know how to safely lift well beyond their body weight. Yet they have not bothered to learn proper form when working with a punching bag.
As with any sport, if you box incorrectly you increase the risk to injury. Some of the guys at my new gym are just asking to break a bone in their hand. With that in mind, I thought I would present a few hints on how to avoid injury when using a punching bag.
First off, if you have never been trained on how to punch properly, don’t hit the bag with all your strength. Doing this is like taking someone who has never lifted weights and asking them to squat 2x their body weight. You might hit at a poor angle and sprain a finger, break a bone, or pull a muscle. Hitting a punching bag with bad form is not just dangerous to your hands, but also to your shoulder and arm muscles.
You can get just as much out of working with a punching bag by hitting it lightly. Instead of trying to make every punch rock the bag, try to tap the bag. Instead of punching hard, punch fast. Get a good rhythm going, and tap the bag as you punch it. Don’t punch through the bag, just punch enough that you make contact.
Doing this increases your speed, your rhythm, and your aim. Many rapid taps against the punching bag will be a better cardio workout and will lessen the risk of injury.
I mentioned my gym provides boxing gloves to those of us who want to use the punching bag. This is great, but gloves alone do not protect the hands from injury. Every boxer knows that your hands are filled with many little bones, and these bones are easily shifted or broken. Along with boxing gloves, every boxer uses a good set of hand wraps. Hand wraps keep your hand bones in place. They prevent any sort of shifting and spread the impact that your hands feel throughout your whole hand.
As soon as I realized that I would be going to a gym with a heavy punching bag, I ordered a new set of boxing hand wraps. They protect my hands from injury, but they also look pretty cool.
Get A Coach
If you really enjoy working with a heavy punching bag, go get a boxing coach. Boxing is one of the cheapest martial arts to learn simply because it has such a strong working class tradition. for much of the last hundred years, the only chance that a working class man had of making a lot of money was to become a boxing champion. To this day, many urban cities have boxing gyms which cater to the working class. The boxing gym I used to train at was about half the price of MMA gyms.
You don’t have to join a boxing gym forever. Just take some lessons so that you learn how to properly throw a punch without injuring yourself. Learn how to turn your hips, how to put the weight on different parts of your feet, etc. You will reduce the risk of injury, your punches will be more powerful, and working with a punching bag will be a lot more fun.
Strengthen Your Wrists
Punching with weak wrists can be a problem. Especially if you are lifting weights and focusing on your upper arms and shoulders. If you punch with a lot of power but have weak wrists, you may end up injuring your wrist. Work on strengthening your wrists and forearms so that they do not bend under the weight of a solid punch.
A punching bag is a great tool. I find it to be a lot more fun than any other cardio equipment. It allows you to practice a useful skill and encourages you to use your whole body. I’m very excited to use the one at my gym.