Compression sleeves are one of those pieces of fitness equipment that everyone will have seen at one time or another.
However, most people will have no idea what they are actually for, and even those that do will often not know how to use them properly or effectively.
Considering compression sleeves can be incredibly beneficial in everything from your speed of recovery after injuries and workouts to your performance while exercising, this is a real shame.
That is why, in today’s article, I want to try an explain things in greater detail.
We will look at exactly what compressions sleeves are, how they work, and the benefits they offer. We will even go over some of the best compression sleeves currently on the market.
That way, everyone will know all they need to about compression sleeves and will be able to make a fully informed decision on whether or not they are something they want to try for themselves.
What Is A Compression Sleeve For & How Does It Work?
A compression sleeve is a piece of equipment that is designed to apply pressure to a joint, most frequently the elbow or knee.
Almost always made using an elasticated material, options such as lycra, neoprene, nylon, rubber, silicone, and spandex are the most common.
The most frequent use for a compression sleeve is when people are recovering from injuries and want to try to speed up their rehabilitation.
The sleeves work as adding compression to an area will increase the blood flow it receives and prevent inflammation, both of which are vital for the repair of damaged fibres.
Compression sleeves are also useful for more severe injuries, as they help to stabilise the joint.
This will speed up recovery by supporting the area, allowing the muscles to relax, and providing the perfect situation for repair to occur.
Are Compression Sleeves Good For Weightlifting Of Exercising?
In addition to injury recovery, the benefits of compression sleeves also make them useful for people involved in weightlifting or certain sports as well.
By improving the blood flow to the area, it allows the muscles to contract harder, helping to create more powerful movements.
It also helps them to recover significantly faster, improving both your endurance during a session, as well as how quickly you will be ready to go again when you are done.
The stabilisation of the joint then takes a huge deal of strain off of the insertion of a muscle and the connective tissues around it.
This means the whole joint is supported throughout a lift or movement, dramatically decreasing the risk of injury, allowing you to train through a pre-existing injury, and even helping you to push yourself harder than ever before.
Which Conditions Benefit The Most From Wearing A Compression Sleeve?
Compression sleeves are particularly beneficial for people suffering with arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
These are all conditions where connective and cushioning tissues around the joints become inflamed.
By applying pressure to the area, a compression sleeve helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, while improving blood flow to the area, both of which will help it to heal more quickly.
This also makes them extremely effective for people with ligament, joint, tendon, muscle, and bone injuries.
Muscular stiffness, particularly the type that occurs after a workout, can be eased with compression sleeves, as they get more oxygen to the muscle and help it to recover.
Issues like deep vein thrombosis and poor circulation can also be aided by compression sleeves as well, due to how they increase blood flow to the area.
However, if you are suffering with any circulatory issues such as these, you should speak to a medical professional before you begin using a compression sleeve, or any other compression clothing, just to check that it won’t inadvertently make your condition worse.
Are There Any Risks To Wearing A Compression Sleeve?
The primary concern when it comes to compression sleeves is the effect they have on the skin.
By placing pressure on the area and potentially creating a small amount of friction, you can damage the skin simply by roughing it up or even more deeply by starving it of oxygen or proper blood supply.
The other main risk of using a compression sleeve is that, if you select one that is too tight, it could negatively impact your circulation.
This could lead to both short term pains and irritations in the area, as well as more serious circulatory issues, if you continue doing what you are doing.
Some people will even experience allergies or irritations due to the type of material used or its level of breathability.
There are, thankfully, a number of steps you can take to prevent most of these problems from occurring.
When purchasing your compression sleeve, you need to make a few safety checks.
Make sure you know what material they are made of and that this isn’t something you are allergic to. The material should also be breathable, so you don’t cut your skin off from oxygen.
The fit is also incredibly important. If it is too tight, it can cut off circulation to the area and limit your range of movement while moving about or exercising.
On the other hand, if it is too loose, it may rub and cause irritation or simply offer very little benefit. You therefore need to ensure it fits just right.
If you make sure to consider things like this when selecting your chosen compression sleeve, you put yourself at as little risk of experiencing any of these problems as possible.
Who Shouldn’t Use A Compression Sleeve?
There isn’t any particular group that should comprehensively avoid compression sleeves.
That said, they could be problematic for people suffering with vascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, or any other problems with their circulatory system.
While compression sleeves could potentially help with some circulatory issues, the fact that your blood flow is already abnormal means you could be taking a real risk.
It is therefore advisable that anyone suffering with a circulatory condition speaks to a medical professional before they try using compression sleeves or any other type of compression clothing.
Is It OK To Sleep In A Knee Compression Sleeve?
In most cases, wearing a knee compression sleeve to bed isn’t just ok, it can actually be beneficial.
If you are rehabilitating from a significant injury, it can further the healing process as you sleep, while also easing any pain, allowing you to get a better night’s sleep in the first place.
The only situation where this isn’t the case is if you use a knee compression sleeve that is overly tight.
While compression sleeves are designed to stimulate blood flow to an area, those that are too tight can actually limit circulation and have a negative effect, instead of a positive one.
While you are awake, you can feel if the sleeve has gotten too tight and take it off, but, while you are sleeping you often won’t notice.
This could also be worsened if you move into a position while you are asleep that isn’t great for blood flow in the first place.
These could lead to other complications or a slowing of the healing process.
If you are in any way unsure as to whether or not your compression sleeve is too tight, make sure to seek advice from a doctor, before you decide to sleep in it.
How Long Should You Wear A Compression Sleeve?
Provided you choose a compression sleeve that isn’t too tight, there is no real limit on how long you can wear a compression sleeve.
This is particularly true for people rehabbing injuries, as the longer they wear the sleeve, the more of its benefits they will see and the quicker they will heal.
That said, it is a good idea to give yourself a break roughly every 24 hours.
This will give your skin time to breathe and you the opportunity to clean the area, to ensure you don’t develop any rashes, sores, irritations, or other skin conditions.
What Compression Sleeve Should I Use?
Selecting the best compression sleeve is challenging, as people will all have their own different wants and needs.
That said, we generally recommend the TheraICE RX Compression Sleeve, as it is a high quality product, which can be used on both the elbow and knee.
It also offers additional benefits, such as the ability to be used for hot and cold therapies, and is made by a company known for creating a range of highly effective products that are designed to help you deal with pains and injuries, such as the TheraICE Relief Hat.
However, we understand that this isn’t going to be the perfect product for everyone, for one reason or another. That is why we want to show you some alternative options.
We will now look at a few of the best elbow and knee compression sleeves on the market, based on a number of different essential criteria.
This will hopefully help everyone to find their ideal sleeve and take their rehab or training to the next level.
Best Compression Sleeve For Weightlifting
The best compression sleeve for weightlifting will need to be an incredibly well thought out and designed product, as it needs to do a number of things.
It must provide sufficient compression to support you during your workout and prevent injury, without limiting your mobility in any way. It also needs to be breathable and be highly durable, so it can stand up to everything you put your body through during an intense workout.
The Gymreapers Elbow Sleeves are comfortably one of the best sleeves to wear while working out.
Designed specifically to be used while weightlifting, they provide significant compression to simultaneously boost your physical performance while assisting with recovery.
The cool, smooth material is extremely strong and durable, ensuring they can stand up to any of the rigours you may put them through. The ergonomic design then makes them extremely comfortable to wear, even for elongated periods.
Available in a range of different colours, each boasting the company’s iconic skull design, the Gymreapers Elbow Sleeves will also help to make you look as good as you feel.
With a recommended retail price of $49.99, they may be a little more expensive than what some people were hoping to pay.
However, with their quality build, a 1 year warranty, and a free pair of Gymreapers branded wrist straps included, they are still a purchase that offers a good deal of value.
Gymreapers weightlifting elbow sleeves were designed and tested to ensure a high level of compression and support without sacrificing mobility and functionality.
- Provides a high level of compression
- Designed specifically for weightlifting
- Includes a 1 year warranty and free pair of wrist straps
- Incredibly durable
- Features a cool design and logo
- A little more expensive than some other similar options
ProFitness Knee Sleeves 7mm are carefully designed to apply compression during extreme activities like deadlifts, squats, and CrossFit.
Made from 7mm of high quality neoprene and extra strong nylon, they keep muscles warm and stabilise the joints, helping to both repair and prevent injuries.
Their soft fabric and no slip design makes them an optimal choice for people seeking comfort.
This is then furthered by an ergonomic design, which ensures they freely bend in the exact way the knee is supposed to.
Their sleek black and white design is incredibly stylish and will ensure both men and women of all tastes will be able to wear them, no matter their preferred style of gym gear.
With a zip side pocket and free carry bag included, they even provide a great level of convenience during your sessions.
With a recommended retail price of $39.95, the ProFitness Knee Sleeves 7mm are just slightly more expensive than the average knee sleeves.
However, for those who don’t want to allow injuries to derail their training, this is still a price that is more than worth paying.
Designed for weightlifters, powerlifters, and cross-trainers, your knee wraps stabilize joints and keep muscles warm, helping enhance your form and prevent injury.
- Uses thick neoprene to offer significant compression, stabilisation, and warmth
- Helps enhance recovery and fuel exercise performance
- Boasts an understated yet stylish design
- Includes a zip pocket and free carry bag for maximum convenience
- Utilises a soft, no slip design for extreme comfort
- A little more expensive than other competing knee sleeves
Best Compression Sleeve For Maximum Tightness
The best compression sleeve for maximum tightness will be a product for people almost exclusively worried about making the most of the benefits of compression, without worrying about things like reduced mobility.
That said, it is still important to find a compression sleeve that offers extreme tightness, without reaching a point where it becomes painful and can potentially do more harm than good.
The Venom Strapped Elbow Compression Sleeve is a comfortable, stylish elbow sleeve that provides ample pressure to help fuel rehabilitation, while also being able to improve your exercise performance.
Made from a high quality, unique material, they are highly effective and available in a range of 5 different sizes. They also have a unique selling point, as the sleeve has straps to allow you to add or remove pressure, as and when you need.
This makes the Venom Strapped Elbow Compression Sleeve equally suitable for everything from helping arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and golfers and tennis elbow pains to aiding performance in activities like baseball, basketball, golf, weightlifting, and various other sports.
There are admittedly some complaints over the sleeve’s durability though, especially on the straps, which has reports of fraying and a loss of grip on the Velcro.
The recommended retail price of $87.96 will also be off putting for some, as it is more expensive than many of the competitors.
The stretchable fabric and adjustable strap specifically target the area affected by tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, arthritis, tendonitis, hyperextension and other common injuries related to inflammation of the tendons.
- Utilises straps and a unique material to offer maximum compression
- Designed not to slip
- Boasts a stylish, comfortable design
- Available in 5 different sizes
- Designed for both rehabilitation and enhancing exercise performance.
- Much more expensive than many of their rivals
- There are complaints of fraying and loss of strength of the Velcro on the straps
The Pure Support Knee Brace utilises some of the newest technology available to not only offer the healing benefits of compression but to also completely stabilise the joint, helping you to manage or recover from issues like arthritis, meniscus tears, patella damage, and tendonitis.
Designed using a breathable, knitted material, and high tension supporting straps, you have total control over just how much or how little support you receive.
This allows you to adjust it based on your own injury, or whether you are using it for activities like weightlifting and sports.
Made in 3 different colour schemes, there is plenty of flexibility for men and women of all different tastes to find an option that suits them.
Meanwhile, the recommended retail price of $23.97 and a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee should make it a safe, attainable purchase for most people.
While most reviews were overwhelmingly positive, there have been a number of complaints about the sleeve slipping, particularly during activities that make you sweat.
Some also bemoaned the fact that there is only one brace included, which leads some to feel the price is artificially lowered.
- Straps allow you to have control over the level of compression you desire
- Money back guarantee makes it a safe purchase
- Available in a choice of different colours and sizes
- Can stabilise the joint, in addition to offering compression
- Suitable for use during sports
- Some reports of slipping, especially while sweating
- Only one brace included, while many similar products offer two
Best Budget Compression Sleeve
When selecting the best budget compression sleeve, it is important to strike a careful balance between cost and effect.
You need a product that doesn’t cost a fortune, but which can still provide the full range of compression sleeve benefits, allowing it to offer maximum value for money.
The Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Support Sleeve is an eye catching elbow support, with a stylish, futuristic design.
Combine this with its recommended retail price of just $19.97 and it should be easy to see why it is one of the most popular options on the market.
It is an incredibly durable item, made from a thick, strong blend of nylon, rubber, and spandex.
This allows it to not only supply a significant amount of compression and stand the test of time, but it can also boost performance during exercise, as well as help with recovery.
Available in a choice of three different colour schemes, the Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Support Sleeve is a flexible item that will be suitable for men and women of all different tastes and styles.
5 different ergonomically designed size options also make it ideal for everyone, big or small.
The only potential drawback appears to be that some find its thickness can unfortunately make it quite hot and uncomfortable to wear for elongated periods or for intense exercise sessions.
Some also report that this heat can lead to itching as well.
Kunto Fitness has developed a specialized fabric blend with 4 way stretch capability, offering superior elbow protection and support beyond what you’ve experienced!
- Available in 5 different sizes and three different designs
- Incredibly good value for money
- Offers a good level of both compression and mobility
- Made using a blend of three extremely strong materials
- Boasts a no slip design
- Some users have reported it being a little hot, itchy, and uncomfortable when worn for long periods or during intensive exercise sessions
CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace
With a recommended retail price of between $9.99 and $17.99, depending on which of the 5 sizes and 10 colour schemes you choose, the CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace is one of the most affordable and best value knee compression sleeves on the market. It is also among the most diverse as well.
Made using a blend of latex, nylon, and spandex, woven together using 3d knitting technology, they are extremely breathable and help to keep the knee and all of its surrounding muscles supported, warm, and stable, ensuring a speedy recovery after an injury and minimal stiffness after exercise.
With a comfortable, ergonomic, no slip design, the CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace can be conveniently used whether you are relaxing at home or engaging in activities like cycling, hiking, jogging, running, and weightlifting, as well as sports, such as basketball, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and volleyball.
The only complaint that seems to come up regularly is that, after a while, they begin to start slipping down and loosing a little of their elasticity at the top and bottom. However, given their price range, this shouldn’t be seen as a massive blemish for those looking for maximum bang for their buck.
CAMBIVO knee sleeves are featured with special 3D knitting technology that effective in providing stable pressures to stabilize and support your knee; The braces also keep your knee warm and reduce stiffness; they are the best companion for your workouts and daily activities.
- Incredibly affordable and good value
- Available in a huge number of different sizes and colours
- Uses 3d knitting technology to ensure the material is breathable
- Suitable for use while performing a range of different sports and activities
- Helps to limit stiffness after a workout
- Loses elasticity at the top and bottom and begins to fall down when they start to get older
A compression sleeve is an incredibly beneficial piece of equipment to have.
It can help you to rehabilitate injuries and recover from workouts faster, prevent injuries during your sessions, and even let you push yourself harder in your training.
While primarily used to support the elbows and knees, you also have options like ankle and bicep compression sleeves as well. This means there are very few joints in your body that can’t benefit from compression sleeves.
This article should have given you all the information you need about compression sleeves, from explaining how they work to showing you which are the best options available.
That means all that is left is for you to go and select your chosen product and start reaping all the rewards of compression sleeves for yourself, as soon as possible.