Wrist Wraps & Knee Wraps
by Al Myers
I just want to take today and clarify the USAWA’s stance on wrist wraps and knee wraps. I know last week (in the Dear Dino Man column) I made reference to our organization not allowing any kind of wraps, and I have received a few questions regarding that. The Dino Man’s response was a little extreme, because in truth our organization does allow wrist wraps and knee wraps in certain lifts. That response was more aimed at the ridiculous use of lifting suits and supportive bench shirts, which allow a lifter to lift WAY more weight than they could without them on. But today’s story is not about my opinion on supportive lifting equipment – so that’s all I’m going to say about that. This story is about what the USAWA allows in regards to wrist wraps and knee wraps.
With the March Postal Meet approaching (the Eastern Open Postal), this discussion becomes very relevant. This postal meet contains the 12 inch base squat as one of the lifts. Last June at the Annual National Meeting of the USAWA the topic of knee wraps came up. Where they allowed or not? The membership was divided on this – meaning half thought they were and the other half thought they WEREN’T allowed! Apparently in 1997 the use of knee wraps was approved by the membership for the front squat and 12 inch base squat. This issue was never brought forth in the Rule Book and thus a lot of lifters assumed from that point on that knee wraps were not allowed for these two lifts. The only lifters who knew they were allowed were those in attendance at this 1997 meeting. The problem this has created is that some lifters were wearing knee wraps for the front squat and 12 inch base squat in postal meets since then while others were not. Several USAWA records were established from that point on with knee wraps. It is nearly impossible to go back now and identify these occurrences so the membership at the 2010 meeting voted again in favor to allow knee wraps for these two lifts ONLY (front squat and 12 inch base squat) and make this point known in the current Rule Book. This rule is now part of the updated 4th Edition USAWA Rule Book. This knee wrap rule for these two lifts comes into accordance with the IAWA rule which also allows them. The regular stance squat is an IAWA lift (not a USAWA lift) and knee wraps may also be worn with it. Also, dimension specifications of legal knee wraps were added. They are not to exceed 2 meters in length, with maximum width of 10 cm and maximum thickness of 1 mm.
Wrist wraps have been allowed in the USAWA since 1997 for all lifts. Before this wrist wraps were only allowed for lifts that allowed back hang and front hang (mainly the dumbbell swings). The specifications of legal wrist wraps are not to exceed 1 meter in length, with maximum width of 10 cm and maximum thickness of 1 mm. The rules also state if the wrist wraps contain thumb loops, they must be removed from the thumbs prior to lifting. Now don’t confuse wrist wraps with wrist straps. Wrist straps or lifting straps that attach the hands to the bar are NOT allowed!
Section VI. 12 states that all equipment (including wrist wraps and knee wraps) may be required to be inspected by the meet official at weigh-ins. If the equipment does not meet the rules criteria, this equipment will not be allowed to be used in the competition. I hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding wrist wraps and knee wraps usage in the USAWA.