Can You Break Your Knuckles, Hands, and Wrists When Hitting a Punch Bag?

Written by Alistair Knight | 01 July 2021

A boxer with tattoos punching a heavy bag with boxing gloves on.

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It’s easy to think that all punch bags are soft enough to strike without protection, but is there a risk of breaking your knuckles, hands, or wrists when hitting one? I’ve trained on over a hundred punch bags at a variety of indoor/outdoor boxing gyms consistently for over four years now and here is what I’ve found:

Can you break your knuckles, hands, and wrists when hitting a punch bag? There is a high risk you will break your hands when hitting an adult heavy bag and freestanding bag, but there is no risk when hitting a speed bag or a double-end bag.

This is because heavy bags and freestanding bags are filled with either water or multiple layers of dense foam/clothing (depending on the bag), whereas speed bags and double-end bags are pumped up with air, making them lighter and softer.

What Does An Adult Heavy Bag/Freestanding Bag Mean?

An adult heavy bag/freestanding bag means that the punch bag is something strong, tall fighters use to train with. It’s typically much taller and harder to hit in comparison to children’s punch bag which can sometimes be pumped up with air.

Can All Adult Heavy Bags and Freestanding Bags Break Your Knuckles, Hands, and Wrists?

If the material inside the bag contains either dense foam, sand, clothing, and other fabrics, and the bag feels hard to hit, then there is a good chance that it could fracture your hands, knuckles, and wrists. The lighter and softer a punching bag is, the less damage it will cause if you didn’t wear gloves.

Is It Safe to Punch a Heavy Bag Without Gloves On?

It is not safe to punch an adult heavy bag without gloves on because even if you don’t break one of the 27 bones in your hand, 27 joints, and over 100 ligaments, you can still cause bruising and muscle problems which can have long term consequences if you repeat the mistake.

Beginner boxing gloves or MMA gloves can be bought for as little as £15/$20USD/$27AUD and will make all the difference in your training.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and have found a useful answer to your question.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you.

  • Do you wear protection when using the punching bag?
  • Will you wear protection from now on?
  • Perhaps you have a question?

Let me know by leaving a comment below or sending us a message on our Instagram.

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Alistair Knight

Alistair Knight is an amateur athlete in boxing and the founder of Healthy Principles. He spends most of his time practising and learning more about boxing to ensure you get the best experience-based and evidence-based insights to learn. Learn more about Alistair Knight