Elbow Pad

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Elbow pads are protective gear worn on your elbows to protect them from injuries caused by a fall, collision or prolonged periods of contact with the ground. They are worn by people in many walks of life.

Benefits Of Elbow Pads

We will briefly examine below the benefits of wearing elbow pads for 3 important groups of individuals – athletes, workers and military personnel.

Benefits For Athletes

First, athletes in sports in which falling is a risk make extensive use of elbow pads. This includes cyclists, skateboarders, hockey players, volleyball players and many more. In these sports there is always a risk that an athlete can fall and try to break the impact of the fall with his or her elbows.

This can especially happen when the athlete falls backwards. However, athletes falling forwards may also subconsciously try to break the fall with their elbows. The consequence of this can be traumatic elbow injuries up to and including elbow fracture.

In addition to the risk of traumatic injury, wearing an elbow pad can be an effective way for an athlete to reduce the risk of turf burn injuries.

Benefits For Workers

There are many occupations that require workers to spend prolonged periods on their elbows and knees while working in confined spaces. Examples are painters, construction workers and workers in the roofing and tiling industries. Prolonged periods spent with the tips of the elbows bearing the weight of the body can result in irritation of the bursae of the elbow. These are fluid filled sacs that help the tendons of the joint to glide frictionlessly over nearby bones and other tissues.

Irritation of the bursae can lead to inflammation and then to a form of elbow bursitis known as olecranon bursitis. However, wearing elbow pads can ease the pressure on the tips of the elbows and therefore reduce the risk of developing olecranon bursitis.

Benefits For Soldiers

In addition to helping to protect workers and athletes, elbow pads can also protect soldiers from elbow injury. Especially in combat situations, soldiers may have to spend prolonged periods on their elbows and knees. Elbow pads can help to protect them from elbow bursitis in the same way that they do for workers in industries like construction.

How Effective Are Elbow Pads At Preventing Injury?

The effectiveness of elbow pads was investigated in a 1992-3 study reported on in a 1996 article published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study was based on data reported by 91 hospital emergency departments concerning the injuries reported by in line skaters seeking medical attention between December 1992 and July 1993.

The authors of the study reported that the odds ratio for elbow injuries among skaters not wearing elbow pads compared to those who were wearing them was 9.5. This indicated that skaters not wearing elbow pads had an estimated probability of elbow injury 9.5 times the probability applicable to those who were wearing pads. The 9.5 multiple was only an estimate, but the authors calculated a 95% probability that the true multiple lay somewhere between 2.6 and 34.4. This meant that the 9.5 multiple was a statistically significant indicator that there was an association between the risk of elbow injuries for in line skaters and whether the skater was wearing an elbow pad.

The authors also reported that the odd ratio they calculated had been adjusted for other factors that could potentially influence the risk of elbow injury, such as:

  • The number of skating lessons the skater had had before reporting to the hospital; and
  • Whether or not the skater had been performing trick skating.

Selecting The Correct Elbow Pad Size

Choose your elbow pad size from the sizing chart and other instructions supplied by the manufacturer. Wearing the correct size is important if you are to benefit from the protection the pad can offer.

If the pad is too small, it will offer less elbow protection than you may be looking for. There may also be problems with interference with your blood circulation. If you detect any numbness or unusual sensations near your elbow while wearing the elbow pad, you should consider switching to a larger size.

On the other hand, if the elbow pad size is too large, it may interfere with your elbow range of motion. This in turn may compromise your sports performance while wearing the pad.

Suggested Elbow Pad Products


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