It might look intimidating when you see women walking around the gym wearing workout gloves -- she must be a serious heavy lifter, right? That's not always true. The proper gloves or taping technique can reduce the chance of muscle or tendon pulls in your wrist and forearm as you work out, and they can help keep your hands silky smooth by keeping calluses from forming.
There are a mind-boggling variety of workout gloves to choose from, but look for a few key features if your goal is wrist support. Make sure the palm and fingers have rubber or some other sort of traction material so you are less likely to drop a weight; trying to compensate or keep a weight from falling can wreck your wrists. Check for a glove that comes down below your wrist with a stiff, adjustable band to offer support.
Even if it makes you feel like you're ready to jump in the boxing ring, taping your wrists and hands can offer support. Start with a hypoallergenic underwrap to make sure your sensitive skin won't react with the sports tape, wrapping it around your palm and 2 to 3 inches below your wrist. Take 1 1/2- or 2-inch rigid sports tape -- also called strapping tape -- and make a band around your palm and one around your wrist joint. Crisscross two pieces of tape between the bands on the front and back of your hands to anchor your wrists to your hands. This can feel a bit restricting sometimes, not allowing your wrists to move in a full range of motion, but it offers the stability you need to support the joint.
Make It Stronger
If you're not into the "power lifter" look, build strength in your wrists so the muscles can support your weight training. Kneel on the floor with your hands flat. Turn your hands around 180 degrees so your wrists face forward and your fingers point backward toward your knees. Sit back on your heels slightly to stretch your wrists and forearm muscles. Sit on a weight bench and rest your forearm on your thigh while holding a light dumbbell, then lift and lower, moving only your wrist. Turn your palm over for reverse curls. Working your grip can also strengthen your wrists, so try grip exercises such as squeezing a stress ball throughout the day or doing a farmer's walk at the end of your workout. Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand with your arms down by your sides, then walk around without dropping the dumbbells.
That little twinge when you turn your wrist a certain way while weight training can be a sign of a bigger problem. If you feel any sort of pain in your wrist while working out, check with your doctor to make sure there are no ligament or muscle problems before lifting weights again. Working out with serious wrist problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can cause permanent damage to the joint. Give yourself a break from lifting for a few days if your wrist becomes swollen or sore.