If you wonder why your hands might hurt after boxing practice, just look at your hand, then look at your arm and shoulder. The forces a trained boxer generates with a punch are significantly more than those your hand and wrist are meant to withstand. However, with proper training and equipment, many boxers can go their entire career without major hand pain.
A carpal fracture is a break of the bone in the lower hand or upper wrist. According to the International Boxing Association, they are the most common fractures in boxers, and also the most troublesome. Symptoms of a carpal fracture include pain, weakness or numbness where your hand connects to the wrist.
Broken and fractured fingers are another common injury in boxers, usually caused when a punch lands wrong. While the large knuckles of the index and middle fingers can handle impact, the smaller knuckles will break under a solid punch. An off-angle punch can even break the bones in the back of the hand. Even outside of boxing circles, this kind of break is often called a "boxer's fracture." Most of the time, you'll notice one of these breaks right away. The impact will hurt, and you will feel a weakness in the hand and knuckles.
Scrapes, Bruises and Dings
In addition to the two common fractures, a boxer's hands often accumulate a collection of scrapes, bruises and minor sprains. Although no one of these injuries is an emergency, they can add up to misery or a hand ready for a major break if they go untreated. If it hurts to punch, it's generally a good idea to stop punching for the day. You can still get plenty of training in by practicing footwork or getting in a run.
Training and equipment are your best protection against boxing injuries. Before you throw your first punch, you should get qualified instruction in the correct techniques for driving and landing the shots. Properly applied hand wraps and boxing gloves also protect your hands from the worst injuries associated with boxing.
- "The Sports Injury Handbook: Diagnosis and Management"; Christer Rolf; 2010
- International Boxing Association: Hand and Wrist Injuries; Derya Dincer; May 5, 2007