Essential Boxing Safety Equipment
When in the ring, boxers have one main goal: to knock out their opponent. Entering a boxing ring means putting yourself in the path of injury. All good cutmen, cornermen, boxing coaches, and boxers know that putting safety first is critical if you want to keep fighting.
We’ve covered essential safety tips for boxing, but what about equipment? What are the safety essentials that need to go with you into each match? Find out here.
Boxing Safety Essentials
At Sterosport, we work with sports physios, injury rehab specialists, and pros in the boxing world to provide real boxing first aid for real boxing health risks. Here’s our rundown of essential supplies for boxing safety.
Boxing gloves are without a doubt one of the most important pieces of boxing safety equipment. There are a few different types of boxing gloves that should be used in different situations, from training in the gym to professional matches.
- Bag gloves could be thought of as general-purpose gloves and are for use when training. If you want longevity, it’s worth investing in a good pair as they will see a lot of use. Worn down gloves of any kind will provide a thinner and thinner protective layer between your hands and the surface of impact, so it’s important to get a good quality pair and keep an eye on them for when a new pair is needed.
- Sparring gloves are designed to offer protection to not only the wearer but the sparring partner. The surface of the gloves is designed to cushion and distribute of the force of impact. It’s the responsibility of the boxing coach to ensure the correct weight of gloves is worn.
- Amateur gloves are used for matches and are usually provided by promoters and sponsors. The boxing coach should ensure these gloves are a good weight and fit for the boxer. Sometimes the knuckles on amateur gloves will be highlighted to assist judges in scoring the fight.
- Professional gloves should only be needed for professional competition and are generally concerned with offence rather than the protection of the wearer and opponent.
When progressing into sparring sessions, wearing appropriate headgear is absolutely essential. The Association of Neurological Surgeons found that of all boxers, 90% will experience a concussion at some point in their boxing career. A concussion isn’t something to be taken lightly, with repeated knocks to the head leading boxers to be more prone to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
While headgear won’t entirely remove the risk of injury as a result of blows to the head, it can afford you some valuable protection, especially from bruising and lacerations.
Your head guard should:
- Provide protection of your cheekbones.
- Fit correctly. Generally, there are several different sizes to choose from.
- Head guards can be made from all sorts of materials and it’s up to you which one you choose, but leather generally tends to be more robust and fit better.
- A well made and attached chin strap with well-adhering velcro.
- A good range of vision when wearing the head guard.
- A good, high-density foam padding inside.
A mouthguard is often thought of as the most important piece of safety equipment when going into sparring. A good boxing coach will ensure boxers wear the appropriate mouth protection in a sparring match. Wearing a mouth guard has multiple safety benefits, including:
- Protecting the teeth from impact
- Protecting the tongue against accidental biting
- Protecting soft gums from impact
- Reducing the chance of a concussion
- Protecting the lips from a split
A ‘boil and bite’ boxing mouthguard is the most commonly used type of mouthguard. This is made of a simple piece of plastic that is put into boiling water to soften it and then placed between the teeth and bitten down on to set it into a close-fitting, unique mould.
There are many different types of mouthguards on the market. The most important factors to consider when finding a good mouthguard are:
- Can you breathe properly when using it?
- Does it fit snuggly around your teeth and jaw without feeling uncomfortable or ‘off’?
- How much space does it cover? The mouthguard should end somewhere in between the first and second molar. A too-large mouthguard could do the opposite of protecting your mouth and even cause you to gag during a fight.
An absolute essential for any type of boxing—from amateur bag practice to professional matches—hand wraps keep your most valuable fighting weapons safe meaning you can avoid injury, recover quickly, and keep fighting.
Hand wrapping is used to as a means of protecting all the small bones and joints in the hands, wrists, knuckles, and fingers from damage while you fight. It’s important to remember that hand wrapping is not meant to offer padding to cushion the impact of a punch, that’s what your boxing gloves are for.
Hand wrap works by securing all the joints and bones within your hands together firmly so that when you strike the bag or an opponent, the shock is properly distributed across your whole hand and doesn’t force any parts of your hand out of position.
The shock of impact can force joints in your hand to compress or overlap in unnatural ways. While this might not necessarily cause an injury immediately, repeated actions like this can damage your hands over time.
For a detailed step-by-step breakdown of how to apply boxing wrist wraps in our blog.
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All boxing teams must enter the match with a proper boxing first aid kit. Your first aid kit should contain everything you need to deal with the more common boxing injuries and emergencies, including
- Head injury
- Facial cuts and fractures
- Wrist and hand sprains and fractures
- Fractures in fingers and knuckles
- Dislocated shoulder
- Strain injuries
- Cuts, grazes, punctures, friction burns, nosebleeds, etc.
Find out what should be in a boxing first aid kit in our blog, or order one of our boxing first aid kits that come complete with all the essentials. But having the right kit isn’t all when it comes to safety in the ring. Coaches, cutmen, and cornermen have a duty of care to be able to provide first aid to boxers in critical moments.
Find out what first aid qualifications GB Boxing, the national governing body of boxing in the UK requires of you in our article First Aid Courses for Sport.
Groin and Chest Protection
Groin guards are especially important for cushioning delicate areas from any accidental blows. A good grion guard will be made with a reinforced plastic cup and gel interior to support you while keeping you dry and protected. When choosing a groin guard, it’s important to get a good fit.
You’ll need to ensure all your sensitive areas are fully covered, but that your movement isn’t obstructed. Another important feature is the strapping. You don’t want to end up having to re-adjust mid-fight.
For female boxers, a chest guard is equally important for protecting sensitive breast tissue. When looking for a chest protector, make sure you find one that covers the breasts, ribs, and sternum. Often chest protectors can be single purpose-made or consist of a sports bra with protective inserts that can be removed so the item can be worn as a normal sports bra.
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