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Hand & Wrist Pain From Heavy Bag Training

wrist-pain-boxingI got an email from a subscriber who is experiencing hand and wrist pain as a result of heavy bag training.  Since this is a common question, I thought I’d share it on the blog:


I have recently begun using a heavy bag, and after each session I experience pain in my hands and wrists.  I wear gloves and I do wrap my hands, though it still hurts.

I have heard that the body adapts to the pain, and it goes away after a while, approximately how long does it take for the average person’s body to adapt?

Hand and wrist pain is common for poeple who are new to heavy bag training.

It’s not that the body “adapts to the pain,” as much as the body becomes stronger and more resilient so that there is little to no pain. Pain is an important source of feedback during your training and if something you are doing hurts, you should always investigate the source of the pain and fix it.

Like muscle strength, punching power increases faster than your bones, tendons and connective tissue can adapt to the stress of impact.

The key is to start off with light to moderate striking with a focus on strict and precise body mechanics. The time it takes for adaptation to take place differs from one person to the next, but on average its about 6 to 10 weeks. Sometimes longer, sometimes sooner.

The key though is that stress and recovery requires a constant balance… If you are training for the long term, as everyone should… you need to “listen to your body” and back off when you are doing too much hard striking… and then turn it up a notch when you’re feeling strong and ready to test your limits again.

Even after a period of adaptation, too much high impact training will take it’s toll on the body. That’s the case whether you’re hitting a heavy bag, running on concrete or any other repetitive activity.

The key is to train at light and moderate intensity and incorporate full power periodically; just like a weight lifting program has light, medium and heavy days… If you train heavy (or hard) every workout, you’re going to get burnt out and injured.

It is also helpful to incorporate strength training into your workouts.  If your muscles, bones and connective tissues are not strong and resilient, it is only a matter of time before you are going to get injured.  Believe it or not, you can learn to hit hard without being in excellent shape, however for the sake of your body and your health, I’d advise against it.

Kettlebells, body weight exercise and gripping exercises will strengthen the structure of your body and will increase the potential to train hard and strike hard without running the risk of pain and injury.

You should alternate intensity and striking power from one workout to the next and only hit with full power probably once a week or so.

I wrote another post on this topic at this link:

Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts on the matter…


About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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  • neyikenhai

    Excellent advice. I am currently taking a break from a shoulder injury and stumbled upon your article which am bookmarking. Thank you very much.

    • Glad you liked the post Neyikenhai. Good luck with rehabbing your shoulder. When you’re ready to start training again I’ve got a couple resources I can steer you towards if you’re interested… In the meantime… you might want to take a look at the “turkish get up with a kettlebell.” Excellent for stablizing the shoulder joint for combative training and fixing/preventing shoulder problems.

      • neyikenhai

        I’ll check that out. Thank you sir.

  • Hoyos

    “Listen to your body” a thousand times yes. Your own body is only yours, just because some other guy can go from zero to hardcore on any methodology doesn’t mean you can. Consistency trumps intensity over time. BTW, just found your website, good stuff.

    • Excellent points Hoyos… Thanks for your input.

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