The 6 Best Elbow Compression Sleeve for Calisthenics

Elbow Sleeves, you’ve seen them while watching sports and if you frequent the gym, you’ll probably have run into them more than once. The benefit of these sleeves, sometimes called Elbow Compression Sleeves or even Arm Sleeves, may elude you at first. But, as any athlete knows, every tiny bit helps with your training when you add it all together – diet, lifestyle, calisthenics equipment – it pays off. Elbow Compression Sleeves belong in that additional category, helping to prevent injury and reducing muscle ache the day after. If you’re looking to push that extra 1% more performance, which you should, you should look into getting your own Elbow Compression Sleeves. 

What Is an Elbow Compression Sleeve?  

An Elbow Compression Sleeve is a tightly fitting garment made of a flexible and usually dense material and which you wear around your upper arm and over the elbow. The Elbow Compression Sleeve is typically worn by athletes while engaging in calisthenics exercise which involve putting load on the upper arm and elbows or, by weightlifters performing deadlifts. Common materials used are latex, nylon and spandex. Some Elbow Sleeves also come with Velcro or neoprene additions. 

There are many benefits to the compression the Elbow Sleeve has, including preventing injury and inflammation and increasing your performance. 

Benefits Of Using Elbow Sleeves  

Our joints are meant for moving one way back and forth and they have very little lateral movement. In a sense, our muscles are actually too strong for our elbows. The amount of force we can exert would easily shatter the elbow joint if applied laterally. Normally we can’t physically do this on our own since our muscles will only go one way back and forth as well. But when you’re lifting a lot of weight and this weight suddenly shifts, it can put too much lateral pressure on your elbow joint.  

This can lead to acute, disastrous injury. But that’s not your only concern. Even if you don’t pop out your elbow from its joint, long-term and repeated lateral stress can create an injury overtime. Usually, once your elbow is “bust” like that, it is permanent. Using an Elbow Compression Sleeve reduces the lateral movement your elbow can make and helps in reducing injury that way, especially of the kind you accumulate over longer periods of time. Some other benefits of wearing Elbow Sleeves are: 

  • Fewer Injuries: As we mentioned above. 
  • Improved Blood Circulation: Contrary to popular believe, an Elbow Compression Sleeve does not cut circulation like a tourniquet would. The large surface area the Elbow Sleeve compresses instead acts as a funnel, forcing blood to flow faster and deeper into the muscles. It also prevents blood pooling and lactation, reducing recovery time. 
  • Stabilization: The Elbow Sleeve keeps your muscles more compact and you will find it easier to repeat the exact same movement back and forth repeatedly. This is especially desired by weightlifters.  
  • Warmth During Cold Weather: A little-known fact, but if you’re out in cold weather, your number one concern is cooling down too much in between sets. Your Elbow Sleeves help keep your arms warm. 

What To Look for When Buying Elbow Sleeves 

You’re looking for your own Elbow Compression Sleeve and are wondering what to look out for. In our own experience, doing both calisthenics and weightlifting, these are the key factors to take into consideration. Ideally, the best Elbow Compression Sleeve has all these factors going for itself: 

  • Comfort: The Elbow Sleeves should sit comfortably, providing equal compression all around your arm without cutting off circulation anywhere. This should be the case when the arm is extended as well as with the elbow bent. 
  • Flexibility and Support: this is often an either or: The more flexible the less support while the more rigid, the more support the Elbow Sleeves will provide. The best Elbow Compression Sleeve hit that sweet spot, although it does depend on what you’re using it for. 
  • Slippage: Elbow Sleeves should not creep, roll up or slip off your arm while you’re using it. 

The 6 Best Elbow Compression Sleeves

If you’re looking for the best Elbow Compression Sleeve, we’ll lend you a hand, or rather an arm. These are our favorite Elbow Sleeves which we use or have used ourselves. They score high on all three key factors: comfort, flexibility versus support and a lack of slippage.  

#1 Gornation Elbow Sleeves and Arm Sleeves

10% off with our code: CWW10 (only on gornation.com)

  • Form-fitting one-piece design 
  • Calisthenics 
  • 2 for the price of one 
  • Discount Code: CWW10 for 10% off 

Gornation starts off our list with their excellently fitting Elbow and Arm Sleeves. Available in 4 sizes, they fit like a tailored suit. Compression is very even and all around the arm and felt just right while still maintaining a full range of motion. These Arm Sleeves are of a one-piece design with a double seam on either end to prevent fraying.  This results in a nice and even distribution of the compression all along the arm. The muscles are kept nice and compact while the elbow is relieved of a lot of the pressure.  

These Arm Sleeves excel while doing dynamic and weighted calisthenics exercises. They maintain the pressure without causing any discomfort no matter at which angle the elbow is bent.  

According to Gornation, you want to train both sides of your body at an equal pace to avoid malformation of the body. We agree with this and luckily Gornation’s Elbow and Arm Sleeves always come in a pair. This is especially helpful with preventing injury to an otherwise unprotected elbow. 

The Elbow Sleeves come in at just under a foot at about 9 and ¾ of an inch. The longer Arm Sleeves are 1 foot and 2 inches. The extra length means the differences between incorporating the full length of your biceps or not. They can be machine washed using a cold program. 

#2 McDavid Power Shooter Arm Sleeve 

  • Form-fitting one-piece design 
  • Calisthenics & Ball Sports 

McDavid is a favorite among many amateur and semi-professional volleyball players for good reason. This Arm Sleeve is made of a breathable fabric designed to keep you dry and is non-slip. You’ll see them around the shooting arm of many a self-respecting volleyball player who can’t have their sleeve flying off when they deliver a powerful 70 mph smash.  

The Arm Sleeve is around 14 inches long and should be fitted just over the bulge of your biceps. It provides good, uniform compression and doesn’t roll and creep. We’ve went out of our way to bring a volleyball in and practice our (admittedly amateurish) smashes. The sleeve hung on quite nicely, only needing a tuck on rare occasion and which might have just been a feeling of needing to do so than an actual need.  

Only downside to this Arm Sleeve is that the same kind of fabric which keeps your skin dry, soaks up your sweat. You’ll have to wash them after every use (cold program in the washing machine) or they’ll smell awful next time you pull them out. 

#3 Copper Compression Elbow Sleeve 

  • Form-fitting one-piece design 
  • Calisthenics 
  • Arthritis Relief 

Copper Compression makes products for people suffering from arthritis. Arthritis is the chronic inflammation of joints which almost always leads to chronic pain or bouts of pain which become more pronounced when the joints are moved. Copper is a known anti-inflammatory metal which, when placed on the joints, can soothe the inflammation and help with the pain.  

There are other products like Copper Compression which also incorporate copper. But what sets Copper Compression apart is their infusion of copper into the nylon of the sleeve, whereas others simply spray their sleeves with a copper-oxide solution. The Copper Compression Elbow Sleeve will last much longer than these inferior products, giving off copper molecules to your skin, raising the copper content of the muscles and joints below.  

The added compression supports the elbow and prevents adding insult to injury. The sleeve fits well and sits comfortably. We had no problems doing basic calisthenics while wearing them. They are anti-odor and act as a wick for sweat, meaning you won’t be walking around with wet skin all the time (itself a cause for rashes).  You can simply machine wash your sleeve and wear them for extended periods of time. 

#4 Venom Strapped Elbow Compression Sleeve 

  • Strap adjustable design 
  • Calisthenics & Weightlifting 

For those looking for a more adjustable Elbow Sleeve, the Venom Strapped Elbow Compression Sleeve is a good solution. Made of breathable and durable material, it comes equipped with Velcro straps. By adjusting the straps, either tighter or with more slack, the compression can be adjusted to suit your needs and comfort. By adjusting the angle of the straps, the compression can be applied on different parts of your elbow, for instance by completely encapsulating the joint itself or by putting more compression on the tendons. 

Venom isn’t widely known but is nevertheless highly rated by those who wear them. Especially by practitioners of movement sports like dynamic calisthenics and tennis, the Venom scores points with its adjustable compression and compact size. In tennis in particular, the rugged Venom Elbow Sleeve doubles as a protector when making dives and coming to a skidding halt. 

#5 Kunto Fitness Elbow Compression Sleeve 

  • Form-fitting one-piece design 
  • Calisthenics & Weightlifting 

Made of rugged nylon combined with spandex and rubber, the Kunto Fitness excels in stabilizing the elbow joint. Although not as flexible as say the Gornation or McDavid Arm Sleeves, we found the Kunto Fitness sleeve to be stable and offering a lot of support. This proved to be a great aid during weightlifting, where the elbow is in need of the most support to help you perform that extra percent better and of course to protect the joint. 

That said, the Kunto Fitness retained the complete range of motion, so doing general calisthenics wasn’t a problem either. With 19,000 primarily 4- and 5-star reviews, we could see why people were so happy with this product.  

#6 Thx4COPPER Elbow Compression Sleeves 

  • Form-fitting one-piece design 
  • 2 for the price of 1 
  • Calisthenics 
  • Arthritis Relief 

Thx4COPPER offers a wide range of copper-containing garments designed to bring pain relief to people suffering from arthritis. With a high copper content of 1000ppm (e.g. 1%) infused within the fabric – so not simply a copper-oxide coating – Thx4COPPER Elbow Compression Sleeves can bring relief from joint pain caused by chronic inflammation. This Elbow Sleeve is of a one-piece design and the fabric remains breathable throughout the day. 

It supports the joint well and provides adequate compression evenly on and around the elbow. It was sufficient to do basic calisthenics and kept our range of motion complete. The Thx4COPPER Elbow Compression Sleeves come in a pair, since many people suffer arthritis in both joints or if not, you have a fresh spare while the other one is in the laundry.  

How to Pick the Right Size Elbow Sleeve 

The girth of the widest part of your elbow will usually determine the right size Elbow Sleeve for you. Take a tape measure, hold your arm extended fully and wrap it around your elbow. That circumference will be your point of reference while picking the best Elbow Compression Sleeve for you. Next will be the length, although most of these sleeves are quite adequately sized for most practitioners, if you want it to cover your entire upper-arm you’ll want to make sure it’s long enough to do so. Others contend with an Elbow Sleeve which covers just the elbow itself. 

With your elbow’s circumference known, you’ll either reference the manufacturers size chart, or deduct about 1/16th of an inch (or 5mm) from that to achieve good compression. 

Elbow Sleeves: Calisthenics vs Weightlifting  

Elbow Sleeves are worn by both calisthenics practitioners as well as weightlifters. Both benefit by the use of Elbow Sleeves although there are some subtle nuances. For your calisthenics you want to remain mobile, so your Elbow Sleeves will have to be flexible. At least flexible enough so you can do all your exercises adequately. If the Elbow sleeves prevent you from making the proper technique, it may actually be harming you instead of helping you. Anything which includes neoprene, thick nylon sections and Velcro straps are best avoided. A one-piece Elbow Compression Sleeve, also called an Arm Sleeve, like the Gornation Arm Sleeve, is your best option. 

For weightlifters, you want to provide good fixation of your muscles to help prevent putting lateral strain on your elbow. Thicker Elbow Sleeves which incorporate thicker nylon patches around the muscles and Velcro straps to custom tailor the spots where compression is added would be your preferred choice. A good example of this would be the Kunto Fitness Elbow Sleeve.

Frequently Asked Questions About Elbow Sleeves

Here are some frequently asked questions about Elbow Compression Sleeves and Arm Sleeves in general.

Do elbow compression sleeves help with elbow pain?

Yes, Elbow Sleeves help to reduce joint and muscle pain, both by preventing injury as well as aiding in the recovery from an injury. Wearing them alleviates pain experienced from golfer’s arm and tennis arm as well.

What are the best elbow sleeves on the market?

The best general purpose Elbow Sleeves are the Gornation Arm Sleeves. They provide good compression and excellent comfort for all your Calisthenics needs as well as pain-relief aid when recovering from an injury.

Do elbow sleeves actually work?

Elbow sleeves work by promoting blood circulation and providing greater stability and fixation of the elbow joint. Wearing one will reduce lateral pressure on the elbow joint, which is a major contributor to pain and injury in that area. They also facilitate better healing after a sustained injury.

Can you wear an elbow sleeve all day?

You can wear an Elbow Compression Sleeve or Arm Sleeve all day long, provided they are not too tight fitting. If you’re using them for Calisthenics exercise – for which you’ll generally want a very snug fit and good compression – you should take them off after you complete that segment of the regimen.

How long can I wear a compression sleeve?

You can wear your Elbow Sleeve for up to 4 weeks, every day while taking them off at night. You may notice that your arm is thinner on the side where you wore the Elbow Sleeve for an extended amount of time. This will normalize within a few days after you stopped wearing the sleeve. Leave your arm to “rest” without the sleeve for at least 2 weeks.

How tight should elbow sleeves be?

Snug and firm with a light pressure all around your arm and elbow. It should not hurt at all and neither should it start hurting after prolonged wearing. 

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