The best tennis elbow brace
You don't have to play tennis to get tennis elbow. Any number of physical activities can cause this painful condition. From sports like basketball and golf, to daily activities like typing and gardening, repetitive motion can put a strain on the tendons in your elbow, causing pain and stiffness. If you suffer from this frustrating condition, a tennis elbow brace might be the solution you've been looking for.
We've compiled the following buying guide to offer advice on choosing the best tennis elbow brace. We also added reviews of a few of our favorites, like our choice for Best of the Best, the Simien Tennis Elbow Brace. Its highly durable construction and lifetime warranty is sure to impress you.
Considerations when choosing tennis elbow braces
Strap-style braces are a single thin band (approximately 3 inches wide) that sits at the top of the forearm, near the elbow. These braces work by placing direct pressure on the tendons, reducing vibration and thereby dulling pain. It allows more freedom of movement than other styles.
A dual-support brace has two separate straps that attach on either side of the elbow. They are designed to intentionally reduce mobility, allowing the tendons to rest and repair themselves. The limited range of motion also helps to reduce discomfort.
Compression sleeves apply pressure to the affected tendons while also providing support to the entire elbow joint. They also work well to keep the joint and tendons warm, which can improve mobility and decrease pain.
A compression/strap combination brace can either be designed as two separate pieces that can be used independently, or as a single piece incorporating both a compression sleeve and thin pressure straps. These are effective at providing the compression and warmth benefits of a sleeve, as well as the targeted pressure of strap style braces.
Pain type and location
Some tennis elbow pain is harsh and shooting in a specific location. For others, their discomfort is more of a dull throbbing further into the forearm. Assess the severity and location of your pain when shopping for a brace. If your pain is more extreme and localized, a smaller forearm brace might be better. If you have dull throbbing throughout your arm, then a compression sleeve is probably the best choice.
Because tennis elbow braces are meant to be worn tightly, the location and construction of their seams are important. Large, poorly placed seams can dig into your skin and cause added discomfort to your already sore arm. Try to find a brace with smaller, flexible seams in areas that won't cause you too much pain.
Neoprene is the most common material for tennis elbow braces. However, some people with sensitive skin prefer nylon braces. While nylon is more comfortable and breathable, it's also generally more expensive.
Many tennis elbow braces come in a "one size fits all" style. While some of these are fine for mild discomfort, sized braces are generally preferable to make sure you get the best fit. A lot of tennis elbow braces come in small, medium, and large sizes that will fit almost any user. Each has their own sizing chart and instructions on how to measure your arm.
While most compression sleeves apply pressure evenly throughout the sleeve, graduated compression models offer a more targeted solution. They apply steady pressure throughout the elbow and surrounding areas and the pressure lessens toward the wrists. This avoids a circulation cutoff, and is more comfortable for most people than a non-graduated compression sleeve.
A few compression/strap combination braces have stabilization pads that massage your elbow when you move. This helps to keep your elbow joint from having too much movement, giving it a chance to rest.
Most tennis elbow braces cost between $15 and $50, while some premium options can cost as much as $85. At $15, strap and compression braces are made of neoprene and usually don't offer graduated compression. For around $30, you can get a strap style brace with flat seams, and some dual-support models are also available. For $50, tennis elbow braces mostly have adjustable pressure straps and may even offer hot- and cold-therapy features. Premium braces over $50 often have four-way stretch nylon and stabilization technology.
Q. Do I measure my arm size flexed or straight?
A. As a general rule, you should measure your arm in a relaxed state, bent at a 90-degree angle. However, check the manufacturer's specifications for their suggestions on measuring for each model.
Q. How tight should my tennis elbow brace be?
A. It should be tight enough to put pressure on the tendons, changing their vibration and range of motion. However, if you feel your arm becoming numb, or you feel a lack of circulation, then your brace is too tight.
Tennis elbow braces we recommend
Best of the best: Simien Tennis Elbow Brace
Our take: Durable construction that outlasts the competition.
What we like: The gel compression pad offers soothing comfort and better support than air-filled alternatives.
What we dislike: One of the most expensive options.
Best bang for your buck: WIMI Elbow Brace and Copper Compression Sleeve
Our take: One of the most complete solutions for a complex injury.
What we like: The copper-infused sleeve offers total support for an ailing elbow.
What we dislike: The velcro straps tend to wear out over regular use.
Our take: A durable compression pad model for a low price.
What we like: The 75% neoprene construction allows for give without damage.
What we dislike: The hook and loop straps wore out quickly for some users.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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