First off, elbow sleeves are great for when you’re recovering from an injury – but even better, they’re also great for avoiding injury in the first place. Elbow sleeves are slowly becoming more and more popular with athletes and gym-goers because they just help you do things better.
Also known as compression sleeves, these are tight fitting sleeves worn on elbows, usually by those who stand a lot or have poor circulation issues. There are daytime sleeves and nighttime sleeves, and are real-time (the sleeves readily available in stores) or customized versions (custom fit for you, especially popular for athletes recovering from injuries).
Daytime sleeves are usually made from some soft fabric material, and can be worn during sports or gym activities – so they’re designed to be a bit more durable. Nighttime sleeves, as you may have guessed, are worn during the night, typically used for those experiencing elbow pain or arthritis.
As you might have guessed for the other name it’s known for, a big benefit to wearing them is for compression. They squeeze blood vessels and allow more oxygenated blood that helps lower your pulse rate when doing any strenuous activity or exercise.
An interesting fact about elbow sleeves is that they’ve actually been around for over 60 years, and were originally used to treat blood vessel disorders such as occlusion (this is when you have a blockage of a blood vessel, such as in the case of a clot). They lowered blood-lactate levels and blood pooling, which means less pain and swelling. It also helps in cutting back soreness, and keeps your muscles just a little bit warmer than they’d be without the sleeves, which is great whether you’re healing from an injury or not.
They can act as extra ligaments and tendons so that your actual ligaments and tendons aren’t as strained during exercises, especially when you’re doing heavy lifting. So if you’re a weightlifter and regularly stretch your muscles, you really should consider wearing elbow sleeves.
Another obvious benefit to wearing them is for skin protection – against scratches from gym equipment or contact with other players if you’re doing any sports. If you’re a marathoner, the covered skin helps protect from prolonged exposure to the sun.
Are there any downsides?
Some, and it mostly has to do with improper use. Nighttime sleeves are not to be used unless recommended by a doctor because wearing it for a long period of time if you don’t really need it may negatively impact your blood circulation.
Since you’re wearing something that helps you perform better, you’ll have to make slight adjustments when performing without them – for example, that means that if you’re a weightlifter you have to slightly adjust your form if you’ve gotten used to lifting weights with sleeves and you’re now exercising without them. If you’ve been lifting more with them, slightly decrease the weight level until you can comfortably and safely reach heavier weights on your own.
So it’s ultimately up to you if you want to wear elbow sleeves or not – but it’s well-worth it if you can save yourself from strained muscles and look good in the gym or field.