Does Supportive Gear Do More Harm Than Good?

Are wrist straps or ankle braces necessary for your workouts? There has been a lot of controversy over the years about wearing supportive gear during exercise.

If you have an injury or are trying to prevent further injury, then it’s a “no brainer” to wear supportive gear. Supportive gear is designed to support and protect, but what is it doing to the muscles or other parts of your body?

When you wear wrist straps or ankle braces, the body learns to lean on the assistance and doesn’t have to work as hard. For instance, when you wear wrist straps, your grip strength is lessened by the straps, as the strap holds the majority of the weight, and therefore the gripping muscles and other normally recruited muscles are being used less. On the other hand, straps allow you to lift more weight and perform more repetitions, so whether or not you use them depends on what your goal is. (Plus, if you are worried about your grip strength, you should be doing grip strengthening exercises on a weekly basis anyway).

With that being said, I recommend using straps or braces during certain exercises where you may need help to get the last few repetitions completed. Otherwise, I recommend using a weight that you can handle without the use of the supportive gear.

To help you decide if supportive gear is for you, check out the advantages and disadvantages of supportive gear:

Advantages of Supportive Gear:

  • Supports certain parts of the body
  • Allows the body to perform more efficiently
  • Helps prevent injury
  • Protects hands from callusing
  • Improves the ability to lift more weight or do more repetitions

Disadvantages of Supportive Gear:

  • Weakens certain parts of the body
  • Dependence on gear for performance
  • Allows the body to be more prone to injury when not wearing them
  • Expensive
  • More stuff to tote around to the gym

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