Arm compression sleeves may be a recent NBA fad, but they're based on science that's been around for decades. And they can benefit any athlete, not just professionals. Arm compression sleeves support painful joints and increase blood flow to injured areas. They also help control swelling from old injuries.
But arm compression sleeves can also help prevent injuries. Wearing them during high-impact sports and intense gym sessions improves your circulation, which helps muscles recover from exertion sooner. And if it's cold, sleeves help keep your arms warm, so muscles don't over-tighten or seize up under exertion. They also add extra warmth if your early morning workout is unexpectedly chilly and protect your arms from sun exposure.
With such varied uses, it can be challenging to find the right arm compression sleeves for your needs. Luckily, our guide has everything you need to know. We recommend checking out our top choice from Kunto if you want a durable, well-fitting sleeve.
Considerations when choosing compression sleeves
If you need an arm compression sleeve to cope with pain, you'll want one designed to apply pressure to the injured area. These shorter, structured sleeves are built to hug the elbow and support the surrounding tendons. Most are sold individually.
But if you're looking for a compression sleeve to use while playing sports or during workouts, you'll need more range of motion. In this case, look for sleeves with moderate compression that's not too restrictive. Weightlifting is the exception--shorter, thicker sleeves that compress the biceps are intended for use with the barbell. Fitness sleeves may be sold individually or in pairs.
Runners looking to increase circulation and add warmth should look for longer, thinner arm compression sleeves. Budget sleeves usually suffice for low-contact purposes like running, walking, or light workouts.
When it comes to compression, fit is key. Carefully measure your arm's circumference and compare it to the manufacturer's sizing chart. Remember, the fit is supposed to be snug. You don't want it to be painful, but a sleeve that's too loose won't do you any good. If your arm is exceptionally slender, consider youth sizes.
If you plan to wear your arm compression sleeves during strenuous activity, look for ones made with moisture-wicking fabric. They'll cut back on sweat and odors as well as help insulate your skin.
Runners, football players, and even outdoor workers like mail carriers and firefighters can protect their skin against sun damage with UV-resistant arm compression sleeves.
Well-fitting arm compression sleeves of reasonable quality cost as little as $8 to $15. Thicker, more durable sleeves typically cost $15 to $35, usually for one sleeve but occasionally for two. These mid-range sleeves often include special skin or joint protection features or a higher level of compression. Higher-priced compression sleeves can top $45 or more. At this price, many sleeves offer better compression or more advanced features, but some do not.
Q. How does compression relieve elbow pain?
A. Compression has been an approved treatment method for years for conditions like tennis elbow and golfer's elbow. Arm compression sleeves relieve pain by applying pressure to the source of the pain. This pressure can increase healing blood flow to the area. Their tight fit also supports elbow tendons, relieving tendon tension and pressure, which reduces inflammation over time.
Q. Can I wash arm compression sleeves?
A. You can and should occasionally wash your arm compression sleeves to maintain elasticity and eliminate rash- and odor-causing sweat. Many sleeves can be machine-washed on a gentle cycle with cold water and minimal detergent. If you'd rather hand-wash, also use cold water and a dab of detergent, and gently wring out when you're done. Regardless of your washing method, let your sleeves air dry.
Arm compression sleeves we recommend
Best of the best: Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Sleeve
Our take: This highly supportive, breathable arm compression sleeve provides relief and stays in place regardless of your activity level.
What we like: Made from durable, form-fitting, quality material. Comes in several sizes.
What we dislike: It's pricey, and some say the sizing chart is off.
Best bang for your buck: bucwild Sports Compression Arm Sleeve
Our take: An attractively priced multi-sport arm compression sleeve with a slip-free silicone band and UV resistance.
What we like: Made from a moisture-wicking material. Adult and youth sizes in a wide variety of colors.
What we dislike: Runs slightly large, which can limit its support. Measure your biceps carefully when ordering.
Choice 3: CompressionZ Arm Sleeves
Our take: The only two-pack on our shortlist is the most practical pick if you need a set of compression arm sleeves.
What we like: Moisture-wicking material prevents buildup of odors. Comes in a variety of sizes and in colors both women and men will like.
What we dislike: Provides less compression than other options.
Kristin Yarbrough 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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