All You Need to Know About Football Gloves and Wrist Support

When guys like Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning start wearing football gloves, it’s worth it to take a closer look at them and what they can do for you. With the recent interest in football gloves and their grip-enhancing abilities, you probably want to get the details behind them and make sure you get the right pair. With so many options on the market today, finding the right pair can seem like a cumbersome task. No need to worry. We are going to break down the basics of what you want to look for in a pair of football gloves and how to support your wrists as well.

Given that hand and wrist injuries are ubiquitous within football, it’s best to prepare yourself and get the right gear. We will discuss how you can protect your wrists from injury with wrist supports, football gloves and a few stretches and exercises you can do for stronger, more stable wrists. We’re also going to look at a few hand and wrist-strengthening exercises that will help keep your hands strong and healthy and improve your performance on the football field as a consequence of those efforts.

What to Look for in Football Gloves

Football Gloves for Ball Handlers

As a ball-handling player, you want to have a vise-like grip on the football. Certain positions like quarterbacks and running backs are liable to fumble the ball given the amount of defensive pressure on them. Other positions like wide receivers are tasked with catching the football midair while under heavy defense. Football gloves provide players with that competitive edge and grip enhancement that help them hold on to the ball longer and catch passes under challenging conditions. The tacky material on the football gloves may be responsible for enhancing players’ ability to catch passes and hold on to them and can make the difference between achieving the winning catch in the end zone and suffering a loss. For those that want to step up their ball-handling game, take a look into football gloves with C-Tack technology.

Football gloves designed for ball-handling players will focus on enhancing their grip. You will find tacky material that surrounds the fingers and the palms. These gloves will have a slimmer design, allowing for flexibility in the hand and wrist.

Football Gloves for Non-Ball Handlers and Defensive Players

If you seldom come into contact with the football and you’re more of a defensive player, you should aim for a different type of football glove than the ball handlers. Defensive players should use the bulkier football gloves, which are padded. Padded football gloves are thicker and provide a layer of protection against scrapes, cuts, broken fingers and wrist injuries. The wrist straps in defensive football gloves are generally larger to provide stability and prevent spraining the wrist from hyperextending it. The thicker padding and overall bulky design help defensive players by shielding them from hand injuries as they clash with the opposing team.

Protecting Your Wrists

The Need for Wrist Supports

Football is a fast-paced, exciting team sport. The football field is where you go to leave it all behind. Unfortunately, sometimes you leave too much out there and end up getting injured. The high-impact and physical nature of the sport is exhilarating but it carries some risks also. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 30 million children in America participate in sports each year. Approximately 3.5 million of these children will suffer sports-related injuries. Wrist injuries are among some of the most common injuries in football. Whether you’re overextending yourself to catch a pass or bashing the defense with a stiff arm, the risk is there.

The wrist joint is a gliding joint within the human skeleton composed of 8 small bones known as the carpal bones. The composition of the joint allows for more flexibility and freedom of movement while sacrificing stability and potentially durability. These bones are smaller and frailer compared to your tibia for example, which is designed to carry the weight of your entire frame.

High-impact sports like football involve your hands quite a bit, like throwing the football, catching a pass, blocking the defense or holding the line. At any moment in time on the football field, you can hyperextend your wrist and sprain it–or worse.

Given the demanding nature of the sport, it’s best to brace your wrists with wrist supports. Wrist supports help players dealing with pain in the wrists also. Look for wrist supports that are adjustable to allow you to customize the level of compression you desire. The compression that wrist supports provide helps to increase circulation to the wrists and stimulate the joints. The increased circulation will help the wrists to warm up and prepare to perform.

The more often a player makes contact with the opposing team on the field, the more likely they are to injure themselves. Wrist supports are a quick and easy, cost-effective approach to safeguard yourself from sprains or torn ligaments in the wrist.

Don’t Skip Your Warm-Up

Before participating in any physical activity, you should definitely warm up. Performing a warm-up increases your body temperature and enhances blood flow. This blood flow contributes to your exercise performance and reduces the risk of injuries to muscles and tendons. Wondering “How does any of this protect my wrists?” More recent research suggests that muscle tissue acts as padding for the skeleton. Stress fractures, which are microscopic fractures within the bones, occur much more frequently in fatigued athletes. The muscles act as shock absorbers, meaning that they absorb most of the impact on the football field and restrict it to just the tissues. Once an athlete is fatigued, the muscles cannot absorb as much force and it transfers deeper into the body, reaching the skeleton and putting us at risk for a fracture.

By warming up, our body signals our muscles that it’s time to work. This helps to cut down on injuries and keeps you in the game longer. Your warm-up can include some light calisthenics or even jogging a lap around the field. Don’t forget to warm up your upper body as well.

Stay Flexible by Stretching

According to a recent 2018 study, “Stretching increases the range of motion of the joints and is effective for the maintenance and enhancement of exercise performance and flexibility, as well as for injury prevention.” Considering these findings, stretching should be an integral part of your warm-up before each football game or strenuous physical bout. A joint that is flexible is not as susceptible to injuries, therefore it’s worth taking a few minutes of your time to stretch before each game to potentially save weeks or months of recovery time after suffering a wrist injury.

If you’re not familiar with any wrist-stretching techniques, give these a shot. A word of advice before we continue: If you have any inflammation or severe pain in your wrists currently, it’s best to consult with your doctor before performing any of these stretches. Stretching an injured wrist can aggravate your condition.

Simple Wrist Stretches

The Praying Position Stretch

  1. Place your hands together while standing, as if you were praying.
  2. Bring your elbows together. Your hands should be by your face at this point.
  3. With your palms facing each other, slowly start to bring your elbows apart.
  4. Your hands should start to lower, depending on how flexible you are. You should be able to make it to your chest or even your stomach.
  5. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for 30 seconds or so. If you start to feel a sharp pain, you have gone too far. Try bringing your elbows closer to each other to reverse the stretch before causing any damage.

Wrist Flexion Stretch

  1. Hold your arm out with your palm facing down towards the floor.
  2. Allow your hand to go limp. Your fingers should be pointing towards the floor also.
  3. Place your free hand over your extended hand and slowly push the hand further down, causing the wrist to flex a bit further than it can on its own.
  4. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for 30 seconds or so. Make sure to ease up if you feel a sharp pain while stretching.
  5. Repeat this stretch for an equal amount of time on the opposite hand.

Wrist Extension Stretch

  1. Hold your arm out with your palm facing outward, as if telling someone to “stop.”
  2. Point your fingers toward the ceiling. If done correctly, you should feel a bit of a stretch in the wrist by performing these steps alone.
  3. With your free hand, grasp the top of your fingers and slowly push them back towards your body. Be very careful not to push too far, as there is not much room for error here.
  4. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for 30 seconds or so. Make sure to ease up if you feel a sharp pain while stretching.
  5.  Repeat this stretch for an equal amount of time on the opposite hand.

Building Strength in Your Wrists

Keeping the muscles surrounding the wrists strong and healthy is a great way to safeguard these joints from injuries. You can do this  with hand and wrist-strengthening exercises. Another side benefit of performing these exercises is the carryover effect they have on the football field.  Strong hands and wrists not only serve to keep you healthy, but they promote a strong grip on the football. If you’re a serious athlete who wants to dominate on the field and in the weight room (if you’re reading this, you most likely are), you will notice that these exercises will help you grip heavier weights also. Aside from using grip-enhancing football gloves, perform these exercises to maintain healthy wrists and have a vise-like grip on the football.

Stress Ball Squeezes

You can use a stress ball or a tennis ball for this exercise. Grasp the ball and squeeze firmly for repetitions or for time. Try either approach and see what works better for you. If you are performing the exercise correctly, you will start to notice a slight burning sensation from the muscles in your forearms all the way down to the smaller muscles in the hands. This is your body’s way of telling you these muscles are being challenged.

Farmer Walks

This is a very simple yet highly-effective “old school” exercise. Simply grab two heavy objects in each hand and walk them as far as you can. Make sure each object is of equal weight to avoid any awkward lifting. If you have access to dumbbells, these are your best option.

Make sure to use good posture and grip the objects as tightly as possible. You will notice that this exercise taxes nearly every muscle in your body, but your hands and wrists the most. Aim for at least 20 to 30 seconds during each “trip.” Try starting with 4 trips and build up from there. If you can complete 4 trips with relative ease, you should be using heavier weights.

So, there you have it! Make sure to stretch before every game and warm up. To keep your hands and wrists strong and have a firm grip, try out the hand exercises detailed above and make sure to protect your wrists by wearing wrist supports. To maximize your performance on the gridiron, you definitely want to invest in a pair of quality football gloves that improves your grip on the football and protects your hands and wrists from abuse.

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