Any non-gymnast who hears the words Tiger Paws will usually not have any idea what you are talking about until you tell them that it is a type of a brace that gymnasts can wear on their wrists. Tiger Paws are a useful thing for even non-gymnasts to have.
Simply put, a gymnast should use tiger paws anytime their wrists need extra support for any reason, especially when their wrists tend to ache after a long practice session.
There are a variety of reasons why a gymnast’s wrists might be hurting them. These include but are not limited to stress fractures, sprains, or even simply from doing repeated high-impact drills like gymnasts do frequently for the vaulting event.
A gymnast’s wrists can even get a growth plate fracture due to the high amount of training that they do at such an early age. With all of these things that can happen to your wrists in gymnastics, it is important to protect your wrists as much as possible.
The Pros And Cons Of Using Tiger Paws
Whether or not you should use Tiger Paws is actually not a simple thing, with some people being against using them while other people use them regularly. The fact is that there are both pros and cons to using them.
One thing that you should know is that you are allowed to wear Tiger Paws when you are competing. However, if wearing them for a competition they must be a neutral or sand colored. This is important to keep in mind if you plan on using them for a competition.
Breaking that rule will not disqualify you, but it will get you a deduction. If you are not competing, then you have a whole lot of other color options that you can choose from, so you may decide to have one neutral set and one brightly colored set.
Advantages Of Using Tiger Paws
Obviously the most important benefit of wearing Tiger Paws it the fact that these helps protect your wrists. There are a couple of different ways that it does this, which is why there is more than one situation in which you should consider wearing them.
The stiffness of them prevents your wrist from breaking or from getting twisted in a way that it is not supposed to. Keeping your wrist in their proper place can also help you as a gymnast to keep the right form when doing a vault or something else.
Also, since the Tiger Paws take some of the impact every time you use your hands, this really helps prevent your wrists from getting sore while you are doing a long training session. All of that is not to even mention the many nerves that are in your wrists.
In keeping your wrists in the right position, it protects these nerves. While you might not thick that doing gymnastics is affecting the nerves in your wrist, this is something that you will not notice until these nerves are already damaged some.
Finally, when it comes to supporting your wrists, using Tiger Paws is much more convenient that trying to use athletic tape or other things that gymnasts sometimes use instead. The fact that it is made out of leather means that it will last you for quite a while, so you will not have to replace it frequently.
Disadvantages Of Using Tiger Paws
When it comes to disadvantages of using Tiger Paws, what is perhaps the most notable one that you will hear is that it weakens your wrists. This is obviously not something that you want to happen, but it is possible that wearing Tiger Paws can make your wrists weaker.
This is because your wrists can get used so used to having the support of the Tiger Paws that they get lazy. Since the Tiger Paws are doing the work for your wrists to some extent, the muscles in your wrists do not get a chance to be built up.
This is more of a problem when you wear Tiger Paws continually for a stretch of time. However, if you need to wear them due to a wrist injury until your wrist recovers then you may not have much of a choice.
Having a weak wrist means that you are more likely to sprain your wrist or injure it in some other way. This is, of course, something that you want to avoid. For this reason, it is important that you avoid wearing Tiger Paws more than you can help.
If you have to wear them for a wrist injury, then when you start to take them off you should do things to strengthen your wrist. Do not try anything that you know is hard on your wrist and pay attention to it for a while until you get it back to full strength.
Another disadvantage to using it is that with the supports on your wrists some gymnasts claim that they cannot get as good of a “feel” for the mat. If this is important to you then wearing Tiger Paws could throw you off your game a little.
Tiger Paws can be a bit expensive too, and since you will only be wearing them as little as possible it may not be worth the money to you to buy them. If you are using them, you should know that the inserts will need to be replaced ever so often.
This is on top of the fact that you will need to break in the leather when you first get them. This in a way is like breaking in new grips. It does not take very long, but it is not exactly enjoyable.
How To Care For Tiger Paws
Since the Tiger Paws are made out of leather, you have to know how to care for them properly. Throwing them in the wash is not an option unless you are trying to permanently disfigure them so you can never wear them again.
In fact, any water at all is not something that you want to use one your grips. However, these will eventually get pretty gross if you have been wearing them for a while. When this happens, you can use a little bit of water and wash it by hand with a toothbrush.
Make sure that you use cold water, that you do not scrub too hard, and that you use as little water as possible. When you are done, blot dry it with a paper towel since a washcloth or anything fabric will potentially leak its color into the leather.
Lay them out flat to finish drying in the air, and make sure that they are completely dry before using them again. Be forewarned that even doing this will make the color fade a little.
One of the other things that you should do is to replace your inserts when you are supposed to. This will help the leather support last as long as possible. Also, most Tiger Paws recommend that you always wear both the plastic and foam support together so that these two can support each other and last longer.
As mentioned, Tiger Paws can be used by more than just gymnasts. Any other sports that also use your wrists and required your wrists to move around a lot can benefit from Tiger Paws. This can include everything from cheerleading where you do many of the same flips as in gymnastics, and volleyball where your hands get impacted frequently.
Tiger Paws can even be used for things that aren’t sports. Some typists whose wrists tend to hurt after long stretches of typing can use this to help support their wrist in a straight position so that they can keep typing longer.
One of the most common times to use Tiger Paws is when a young gymnast is first learning to vault, sine this does take a bit of getting used to and it is hard on the wrists. Beginning gymnasts who are a bit overweight should also consider using them to support their wrists.
Finally, keep in mind that growing teens are going to need more support for their bones. Wearing Tiger Paws might be expensive, but it is not as expensive as medical expenses. If you are in doubt you should ask both your doctor and your coach.