Updated: Nov 16
If you’re experiencing elbow pain or discomfort, a compression sleeve can be the perfect fix. It can improve your circulation and promote post-workout recovery. It can also provide support and reduce the risk of injury. But which one is right for you?
Here’s everything you need to know about elbow compression sleeves, along with nine of the year’s best options.
Elbow Compression Sleeve Types
Strictly speaking, there’s only one type of elbow compression sleeve. It’s a sleeve made of neoprene or similar material that slides over your elbow joint and upper arm. However, there are a couple of pieces of athletic wear that people confuse for elbow sleeves.
An elbow wrap is a long piece of elastic material that you wrap around your elbow. Then you either tuck it under itself or secure it with velcro.
However, a wrap is designed to work more like an Ace bandage. While they compress your elbow to some extent, wraps are mainly designed to provide functional support.
An elbow brace is designed to be more rigid than an elbow sleeve. While sleeves are designed for everyday wear, an elbow brace is typically worn after a sports injury. It’s designed to limit the mobility of your elbow joint, so you can recover. For example, you might wear an elbow brace following a sprain or strain.
Benefits of Elbow Compression Sleeves
Now that we know what elbow compression sleeves are, why would you want to wear one? Here are a few good reasons.
Elbow Compression Sleeves Promote Blood Flow
Elbow sleeves and other compression garments help boost blood flow in your elbow area. This can boost post-workout muscle recovery* by helping nutrients get to your tissues. Good compression also helps to relieve muscle soreness.
Elbow Compression Sleeves Help You Warm Up
While the benefits of warming up before a workout are not proven, there’s some strong evidence in its favor*. Ideally, everyone should warm up before they play sports. Light pressure and improved blood circulation certainly can’t hurt.
Elbow Sleeves May Reduce the Risk of Injury
Elbow sleeves may reduce your risk of joint and muscle injuries. For one thing, they can improve blood circulation*, which keeps the surrounding muscles and connective tissues limber. This same function can also help to heal injured muscles.
Elbow sleeves also allow for a full range of motion, which is essential for CrossFit and lifting weights.
Besides this, elbow sleeves may reduce pain, provide moisture control, and offer more compression than ordinary clothing. What's not to like?
The Best Elbow Sleeves Can Improve Athletic Performance
Besides the potential for improved healing and elbow pain relief, elbow sleeves can improve your athletic performance in other ways.
For example, one study* showed that athletes wearing a knee wrap could jump higher than those without. There aren't any similar studies for elbow compression sleeves. But it stands to reason that a wrap around your elbow and upper arm might have a similar impact.
If nothing else, wearing a pair of weightlifting elbow sleeves can't hurt. Who knows what the right elbow sleeve could do for your bench press?
How to Choose the Best Elbow Compression Sleeve
The best elbow compression sleeves have a lot in common. They help to relieve pain, prevent injuries, and reduce joint inflammation. That said, here are some other things to look out for.
Most of the best elbow compression sleeves are made from neoprene. Neoprene elbow sleeves provide good compression but are also breathable. That said, some people are allergic to neoprene and require an alternative.
A good set of elbow compression sleeves should be tough enough to last. Thick neoprene doesn’t just keep your muscles warm – it’s also far more durable. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to look for a double-stitched elbow sleeve.
We’ve already touched on this, but it’s important. Elbow sleeves are best for improving blood flow, relieving muscle soreness, and providing pain relief. If you’re looking primarily for support, a stiff elbow brace will be more effective.
The Best Elbow Compression Sleeves for 2022
The Copper Compression Elbow Sleeve Brace has some of the highest copper content of any elbow sleeve on the market. This allows it to provide unparalleled support and compression to speed your recovery. At the same time, it still allows for a full range of motion.
Copper Compression is known for its products’ versatility. You can order any size elbow sleeve from small to 2XL. It’s also completely reversible, so the sleeve fits the left or right arm.
The Copper Compression elbow brace is made from a breathable fabric that wicks away sweat, which is essential for any activity from playing sports to Nordic lifting. And unlike some elbow sleeves, it won’t cause skin irritation.
In the worst-case scenario, you can just send it back. Copper Compression backs its product with a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
Iron Bull Elbow Sleeves are some of the best choices for powerlifting. They come in a pair, and you can order them in many sizes. They’re also easy to put on, but seem to run a bit large. If you want more powerful compression capabilities, just order a size smaller.
These elbow sleeves are reasonably priced, yet still surprisingly tough. They’re made from two shaped pieces of neoprene, with sturdy stitching on the sides. This allows for a clean fit around your elbow joint, without creating any unwanted wrinkles.
The Crucial Compression Elbow Compression Sleeve is engineered from the company’s trademarked ComfortFlex material. This is a special breathable material that’s designed to provide firm elbow support without being so tight as to cut off your blood circulation.
Another nice thing about ComfortFlex is its durability. It won’t loose compression due to wear and tear, and the double-stitched seams should stand up to years of use.
The Sparthos Elbow Compression Sleeves are some of the more affordable elbow support sleeves on our list. They come in several colors, including a bright cobalt blue and a slick midnight black. They also come in a pair, so they’ll fit your arm properly on both sides.
The breathable fabric is made from yarn, which also won’t irritate your skin. Even so, it provides enough compression to promote blood flow and help with most elbow joint issues.
The Bauerfeind Elbow Support comes from a German manufacturer with over 80 years of experience in making athletic products. This tennis elbow brace offers excellent elbow protection and joint stabilization.
This is one of the best elbow sleeves for tennis elbow and is useful for everything from tennis elbow to everyday joint and muscle pain. It also won’t irritate your skin and is designed to wick away moisture.
The Gymreapers Elbow Sleeves have a different design from most elbow sleeves. Instead of being stitched at the sides, they’re stitched across the center in an “X” pattern. The seams cross in the middle of your elbow bent, which ensures a snug fit without limiting your range of motion or restricting your blood flow.
The 5mm neoprene is very thick, and tougher than most other elbow sleeves. The kit includes a set of 18-inch nylon woven wrist straps for weightlifting. And if you decide you don’t like the elbow sleeves, you can just send them back.
The DonJoy Performance Trizone Compression Sleeve is designed to provide targeted compression. At three different points, a gel pack is embedded around the elbow joint. These packs provide enhanced compression right where you need it most. Meanwhile, silicone banding supports the biceps and triceps and even provides support during lateral movement.
This elbow sleeve only comes in a one pack, but it has a universal fit that will work on either arm.
The AYBON Professional Elbow Compression Sleeve isn’t just affordable. It’s a combination of an elbow support sleeve and a tennis elbow brace that’s great for physical activity and everyday use alike.
It’s breathable, ergonomic, and helps reduce muscle fatigue during the day. And if you’re athletically inclined, it’s ideal for tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
The AYBON elbow sleeve comes individually, but can be worn on either arm. The elbow straps are also adjustable, so they can fit just about anybody.
The McDavid Elbow Compression Sleeve is another budget-friendly option. It’s a tight sleeve made from flexible materials that won’t retain heat the same way neoprene can. This makes it less than ideal for keeping your arms warm, but great if you tend to get hot.
It’s also made from elastic, not neoprene. As a result, you can wear it even if you suffer from neoprene allergies.
As you can see, elbow compression sleeves provide a number of benefits, both for working out and for your general health and wellness.
The best elbow compression sleeve will ultimately depend on your personal needs. But one thing is certain; all nine of these sleeves have a lot to bring to the table. At least one of them should be a great choice for you.