Critique my punchbag work

Discussion in 'Ju Jitsu' started by hewho, Dec 16, 2020.

  1. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I realize this thread is a few months old now, but I decided to see how things go hitting my heavy bags without wraps or gloves.
    Before testing this, I started regularly doing finger extension exercises with a resistance band (its like a thick rubber band) to help strengthen the tissues on the top of the hand.

    I felt comfortable testing this for several reasons:
    - Not going to Muay Thai classes right now, so if I injured myself I could just give it time to heal.
    - I built up slowly (more on that below), and paid very close attention to any soreness/discomfort I feel when striking.
    - I have been hitting with wraps & light bag gloves for a few years now, and can go full power in those for a long time with no discomfort (unless I mess up the form of the strike--I very occasionally don't tighten or line up the wrist properly and get a bit of wrist discomfort).
    - The volume of total strikes I throw in a week is fairly low--I've been doing 30-45 minute sessions maybe twice a week lately.

    I started with hitting fairly light, but progressed to moderate and even some full power strikes when that didn't seem to cause any issues (after perhaps 4 sessions where going light didn't seem to cause any issues).
    My thicker vinyl bag (water filled) does cause some very minor discomfort/soreness if I hit it with full power repeatedly. At first I would stop hitting it for the rest of the session if I noticed any soreness, but after a few sessions where my hands felt completely fine afterwards (tapping/pushing on the knuckles & other areas to see if they felt at all bruised/uncomfortable/etc), I would continue striking for a little bit, but not to the point where the soreness progressed further, just a few additional hard strikes.
    The bag manufacturer does say to never hit it without hand protection on. And its certainly thick enough that open hand strikes sting quite a bit, and I can't roundhouse it without severe stinging pain in the top of the foot (the bag is squishy due to water filled, so the top of the foot always ends up impacting the bag too, even if the initial impact is with the shin).

    It takes a good number more strikes on my leather (cloth stuffed) banana bag to get any discomfort, even at full power.

    I've since been doing all my sessions unwrapped with no issues. No discomfort at all after the session is over, and the minor soreness/discomfort on heavy strikes fades fairly fast during the session.
    On a scale of 1-5 (1 = touch contact only, 5 = full power), I usually start at a 2 or 3 and progress to mostly 3 & 4 during a session, with occasional bursts of full power punches. I do this on both the vinyl & the leather bags.

    I'm not sure whether doing this has long-term ramifications that I just am not feeling at all yet.
    I know I am putting myself at higher risk of injury (especially throwing strong strikes) than if I wrapped up.

    I've continued doing it unwrapped mainly because I haven't noticed any issues at all, and I figure it is beneficial toughening/conditioning.
    I think my current low volume of striking is about the limit for unwrapped though--I give my hands 2-4 days between sessions, and the sessions aren't particularly long.
    If I increase the volume of training, I'd wrap up & glove up for most of it, and keep unwrapped striking to a fairly low volume.
    axelb and Grond like this.
  2. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I've known guys that are so intense they will bang on the bag for hours. Even with wraps, that's a bad idea and maybe a sign you need some tea. :D

    I think you get the same kind of "toughening/conditioning" with the wraps. You're still hitting something, you're still impacting the bones and fascia in the hands and wrist and forearm, but every little bone and piece of tissue is basically held in a more structured frame.

    One thing to note: not feeling discomfort from striking, or feeling a little discomfort but not knowing exactly where, can also be an early sign of fascia damage. People get all sorts of "muscle pains" during different types of training, even pushups, but sometimes the pains are from more sensitive tissue damage and this is like a plague in the combat sports because if you do love to train and compete, you're worst nightmare is injury. I've gotten terrible muscle pains in my shoulder blades, only to find out later I actually tore a shoulder ligament from (you guessed it), punching air. Couldn't punch anything for months, but when I did again you'll bet I was extra need to test your limits, just improve in steady, secure increments, that's my motto.

    Muscle Pain: It May Actually Be Your Fascia
  3. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I'm not sure I understand that part--am I supposed to feel discomfort from striking, and if I'm not feeling discomfort it can be a sign of damage? (Or was that a typo and you mean feeling discomfort, or a little non-localised discomfort?)
    (I do sometimes get tingly pain on the top of my hand from chops or hammer strikes if I impact too hard; I think this is the fascia not being sturdy enough to handle that level of force. I always give it about a week off of those types of strikes if that happens, especially if the top of my hand feels bruised the next day.)
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Active Member

    I believe we may have had this discussion a bit already, but I’ll repeat what I recall saying: I’ve been hitting the heavy bag without wraps or gloves for years. I’ve never had an injury beyond the occasional minor scraped skin if my technique isn’t perfect, or very minor soreness that lasts no more than a day. With regularity, that soreness stops occurring.

    The trick is, start gradual, go slow, be careful, and don’t be in a hurry to build up to full power and massive amounts of bag work. Everything in moderation. But it sounds like you have figured that out already.

    Keep at it. Good work.
  5. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Well, there are different levels of "damage", and when it comes to your hands I guess what I was trying to say is you don't want to ruin them just training. Hand wraps are quintessential to boxing, back to ancient legend. Ruining the body during training is pretty common problem across martial arts, speaking from experience. Why take chances in a gym?

    Some things in the body can be broken multiple times, like the heart. Other things, just once and it's game over.

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