Punch with them long enough and your knuckles are going to crack, rip and bleed. This is how to reduce risk of your knuckles bleeding and take care of them when they do. . .


It’s an hour into your session and you’re hitting mitts as part of your training. You’re feeling pretty good, the cracking sound of your gloves smashing the mitts making it all that more satisfying.

At some point, you start feeling a dull ache on your knuckle, which you ignore. A few minutes later, it turns into real pain and starts to become genuinely uncomfortable. You take off your gloves, push your wraps to the side and take a look at your knuckles. Blood. One of your knuckles has split open from all the punching and it’s bleeding.

This situation has happened to a good amount of us nak muay. To those it hasn’t happened to, it will sooner or later. It’s extremely frustrating because you have to “baby” your affected hand in a way so the wound doesn’t get bigger and the pain doesn’t worsen. Moreover, the more you train on it, the more it keeps reopening and the deeper the wound gets!

Luckily, there are a few ways to relieve the pain and allow it to heal as you train.


Most of the time, the reason why your knuckles are bleeding is because of your handwraps continuously rubbing on the point of contact. While some like to think it’s because they’re punching that hard, the reality is that with handwraps and gloves on, it’s hard to punch without friction at play.

One way to decrease friction between wraps and your skin is to put on some vaseline. Apply vaseline on your knuckles (when the wound isn’t bleeding) along with a piece of plastic cut out to the length of your knuckles (plastic shopping bags, Ziplock bags, or even latex gloves will do) before you wrap your hands. This way, even with your wraps rubbing against your hand, the Vaseline and plastic will be there to glide along with the movement, minimizing friction. Less friction means less chance of skin breaking and less pain.


When using the method described previously, it’s still a good idea to punch lighter with the affected hand, as the wound is still fresh. As the wound heals, you will be able to punch with more power without having to worry too much about the wound opening back up. It’s also a good idea to use bigger gloves (i.e more cushioning) during this time as well. This will help alleviate the pain.


A not-so-obvious culprit could be your handwraps. Having a good pair of handwraps and knowing how to use them can avoid this situation altogether.

Handwraps made from a rough material can mean they are going to cause more friction. While they don’t need to be satin, they should not be stiff. Try changing to a different brand of handwraps if your knuckles bleed frequently.

Something else you can do is check that you are wrapping your hands properly. Properly wrapped hands should be just tight enough so that the wrap itself isn’t moving around or undoing itself. They shouldn’t be so tight that your hands go numb, but they also shouldn’t be so loose that you constantly have to adjust them.

Take a few measures to help heal your knuckles and even a few preventative ones to not have to deal with the annoyance of them. Bleeding knuckles can easily be worked around during training. Remember to always disinfect open wounds as this can lead to infection if you don’t, which is a whole other level of headache you want to avoid at all costs.

Sean “Muay Thai Guy” Fagan presents

Author Profile

Angela Chang
Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.

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