An elbow compression sleeve provides compression to the elbow joint to aid blood flow through the area. This helps injured, sore or tired muscles, tendons and ligaments recover more quickly than they otherwise would.
These sleeves apply higher levels of compression than a basic elbow sleeve. One way to think of them is as basic elbow sleeves with therapeutic levels of compression.
Benefits Of Elbow Compression Sleeves
Elbow sleeves confer a number of benefits to the wearer:
As mentioned above, the compression improves blood flow through the elbow area. As a result, injured or overstretched tendons, muscles and ligaments get a greater supply of nutrient rich and freshly oxygenated blood. The oxygen and nutrients speed the recovery of soft tissues that have been damaged due to sprains or strains;
The enhanced supply of fresh blood also helps sore and tired muscles recover more quickly. Athletes (and others) suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness, for example, will find that this condition does not last as long after each workout. As a result, they are able to train and/or workout more frequently than would otherwise be possible;
Another important benefit of these sleeves is the enhanced proprioception that they bring. Proprioception refers to the body’s innate ability to instantaneously sense the relative positions of limbs and to correct situations that pose an injury risk. The additional proprioception provided by an elbow compression sleeve therefore helps to reduce injury risk;
In addition to helping the body to self correct and/or avoid potentially hazardous body positions, proprioception also boosts the athlete’s ability to arrange the positions of limbs and other parts in the most efficient way to achieve a given result. This is a significant benefit to athletes who are trying to execute complex movements in the middle of a game or training session. Proprioception therefore improves sporting technique and, as a result, overall athletic performance.
Neoprene based sleeves have the ability to retain the heat naturally generated by the body. This means that they are able to maintain a steady supply of warmth to elbow ligaments and tendons, keeping them more supple and stretchable. This reduces the risk of overstretching or tearing these soft tissues, which in turn reduces the risk of suffering a sprain or strain.
Scientific Studies Of The Benefits Of Compression Sleeves On Athletic performance & Muscle Recovery
The effects of compression clothing in general on sports performance and muscle recovery were studied in July 2011 by Born, Sperlich & Holmberg. The study used 95% confidence intervals to compare the results of experimental trials (using compression) and control trials (without compression). Effect size (Hedges g) adjustments were also used for the analysis.
The investigators found “small effect sizes for the application of compression clothing during exercise for short-duration sprints (10-60 m), vertical-jump height, extending time to exhaustion (such as running at VO2max or during incremental tests), and time-trial performance (3-60 min).”
Where recovery times were concerned, the investigators also found small but measurable benefits from the use of compression clothing. Specifically, wearing compression clothing after exercise produced small to moderate improvements in the time to recovery of maximal strength and power. The investigators observed improvements in vertical jump exercise, muscle swelling reduction, perceived muscle pain and blood lactate removal.
The overall conclusion of the study was that the “application (wearing:sic) of compression clothing may assist both athletic performance and recovery in given situations with consideration of the effects of magnitude and practical relevance”
Elbow Compression Sleeve With Pad
These sleeves offer therapeutic compression levels but also have an adjustable pad that can be positioned to apply additional compression to specific areas of the elbow or forearm. Elbow sleeves with pads are particularly effective in treating elbow tendonitis or, as it is more commonly known, tennis elbow or golfers elbow.
When suffering from tennis elbow, for example, the user can position the pad just below the bony prominence at the outside of the elbow. Positioned in this way, the pad helps to absorb the vibrations travelling up the forearm to the lateral (outer) elbow tendons. With fewer vibrations reaching them, these tendons are able to rest and gradually recover from the irritation and inflammation that is characteristic of tennis elbow injuries.
Similarly, when suffering from golfers elbow, the user can position the pad just below the bony prominence at the inside of the elbow joint. Positioned in this way, the pay will help to protect the medial (inner) elbow tendons and allow them to gradually recover from the irritation and inflammation characteristic of golfers elbow.
With the huge number of these sleeves on the market today, it is useful to offer a few suggestions on choosing the best sleeve for one’s needs:
Whenever possible, choose a sleeve made from a hypoallergenic and latex free material. You will receive greater therapeutic benefits from your sleeve if you can wear it in comfort for prolonged periods. This point is of course even more significant for those with latex allergies or histories of sensitive skin.
Many of the sleeves on the market today are “wickable”, i.e. they allow sweat and other moisture that accumulates on the skin to migrate through the sleeve and evaporate on the outside. As a result, your skin will remain cool and dry under the sleeve even through the toughest and sweatiest training session. These sleeves are easier to wear for longer periods that will provide greater therapeutic benefits;
As mentioned above, neoprene based compression sleeves have built in heat retention capabilities. They should therefore be considered among the best elbow compression sleeves if you are looking for a way to keep your elbow warm and more resistant to sprains and strains during your activity.