An elbow compression sleeve applies therapeutic compression to the elbow joint to improve blood flow and promote healing of elbow injuries such as tennis or golf elbow. It can also help improve recovery times from conditions like delayed onset muscle soreness.
You can think of an elbow compression sleeve as an elbow brace with the additional benefit of therapeutic compression.
An elbow compression sleeve also improves proprioception, which in turn helps reduce injury risk and improve sports performance.
In addition to the above benefits, a neoprene based elbow compression sleeve helps retain the natural warmth of the body. This in turn helps reduce stiffness of elbow soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons. As they become more supple and stretchable, these soft tissues are less at risk of experiencing strains and sprains. These are injuries caused (among other things) by overstretching or tearing of excessively tight soft tissues.
Elbow Compression Sleeve With Pad
An elbow compression sleeve with a pad offers the benefits listed above but also has a pad that can be adjusted to provide targeted compression to a specific part of the elbow. This makes it an effective compression sleeve for treating elbow tendonitis.
In the case of a tennis elbow injury, for instance, this pad can be positioned over the outside of the elbow in order to compress the tendons that connect the outer forearm muscles to the elbow joint.
Positioned in this way, the pad helps absorb vibrations traveling up through the forearm muscles. These vibrations therefore cause less irritation to the lateral (outer) elbow tendons and reduce tennis elbow pain. With less vibration reaching the tendons, a tennis elbow injury will eventually heal as the tendons are allowed to rest and recover naturally.
The same elbow compression sleeve with a pad can be used to treat the symptoms of golfers’ elbow. In this case, however, you adjust the position of the pad so that it presses on the inside of the elbow. Just as with tennis elbow, this reduces the vibrations that might otherwise reach and irritate the inner elbow tendons. This will help the symptoms of golfers elbow to gradually disappear as the irritated and inflamed inner elbow tendons are allowed to recover naturally.
Choosing The Best Elbow Compression Sleeve
In choosing the most suitable elbow compression sleeve, we suggest bearing the following in mind:
If you suffer from specific elbow injuries such as tennis or golfers elbow, you are probably better off choosing a sleeve with a pad. As mentioned above, these can be adjusted to target specific areas of the elbow or forearm that may be causing pain;
If you need a sleeve to combat general elbow soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness, a basic sleeve (not necessarily equipped with a pad) should suffice;
For treating stiff muscles, choose a neoprene based elbow sleeve. As mentioned earlier, neoprene has recognized heat retention properties that will quickly warm up cold tendons and ligaments. That will help to control the risk of elbow sprains or strains.
A neoprene based sleeve is also a good choice if you frequently work out or play sports in colder temperatures. In those conditions, even a thorough warm up may not be sufficient to keep your soft tissues stretchable enough to prevent elbow sprains or strains.
For those with sensitive skin, consider choosing a hypoallergenic and/or latex free elbow compression sleeve. For example, the Mueller Sports Medicine Performance Sleeve is made from Lycra fabric that will not irritate even the most sensitive skin.
Measuring Your Elbow For Your Compression Sleeve
To determine which size of compression sleeve is right for you, follow the manufacturer’ directions contained in their size charts or other instructions.
In some cases (for example, the EmbioZ Elbow Compression Sleeve), the manufacturer will recommend measuring the circumference of the mid point of your forearm. You then choose the elbow compression sleeve size from a chart.
To find the measurement instructions, for the products on this site, just click on the “Sizing” link just above the box where you choose your elbow compression sleeve size. This will take you to a section of the page with detailed instructions on measuring your elbow or forearm and then choosing a size.
Once done, you can return to the top of the page and choose the size that is right for you.
If, having taken your measurement, you find that you are “between sizes” (i.e. right at the border between adjacent sizes, you have a choice:
For additional compression (at the expense of wearing comfort), we would suggest choosing the lower size. However, please be aware that if the sleeve is so tight that you simply cannot wear it for long, there may actually be no therapeutic benefits from this choice.
However, if you participate in some form of intense sporting activity and you need to wear your sleeve for these periods only, staying with the lower size may be the better choice.
Choosing the larger size will get you a sleeve that is more comfortable to wear for longer periods. Wearing it for longer will itself be a therapeutic benefit. If you plan to wear the sleeve for extended periods (perhaps right through a working day) this may be the better choice.