The Top Elbow Sleeves for Powerlifting in 2018
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Is elbow pain keeping you from lifting? Are you afraid injury will hinder your progress? Using elbow sleeves is a great way of helping to prevent injury while powerlifting, and keep you training harder, and longer than before.
Elbow sleeves are becoming more and more popular along weightlifters and powerlifters alike, and for good reason. These sleeves are designed to provide support and compression on weaker joints along your elbow to help prevent injury, and to relieve pain from lingering ailments. The first sleeves that brought these benefits to the limelight were the APT Elbow Sleeves. These sleeves were first introduced in around 2010, and it took the powerlifting market by storm.
In general, there are two types of elbow sleeves, those based on supporting the elbow and those based on compressing the elbow. The elbow sleeves that are designed more around supporting the elbow, are really meant to give added support to the muscles around the upper forearm and elbow to prevent overuse. These compression sleeves are sometimes referred to as elbow wraps because of their general thick design, and extra support. These sleeves are great for committed powerlifters or lifters who have had a history of elbow or upper forearm injuries.
The type of elbow sleeves that are based on compressing the elbow, are really meant to add compression to the upper forearm and elbow. Because these provide compression rather than support, these are perfect for people just getting into powerlifting, or those who want some reassurance for minor injuries.
Similar to elbow sleeves, there are also hinged elbow braces that are designed for added support. Although these are great for certain contact sports like football, it doesn’t give you the range of motion needed for powerlifting. That being said, there are elbow sleeves that are perfect for everyone, and below you will find our elbow sleeve reviews!
The Top 7 Powerlifting Sleeves
SBD Elbow Sleeves
Our Rating & Price
SBD is a leader in compression sleeves. They're widely known to produce some of the best knee sleeves on the market and their elbow sleeves are no different. The only reason these don't get a five star review is because of they are extremely pricey and most people really don't need expensive elbow sleeves.
If you're suffering from minor elbow tendonitis a good elbow sleeve will apply compression which can make a world of difference.
If you're willing to shell out the money you won't be disappointed.
Stoic Elbow Sleeves for Powerlifting and Weightlifting: Most Support
Our Rating & Price
The first elbow sleeves on our list of reviews are the Stoic Power Lifting Elbow Sleeves. These elbow sleeves are known for their sturdy and professional design. This order includes two sleeves, one for each arm. These sleeves are triple reinforced along the seams to guarantee they don’t rip or tear while in use. These are high quality elbow sleeves that are designed to be put through the ringer, and put through a tough workout. This is displayed through their company name, Stoic; “A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining”.
That being said, these elbow sleeves are great for those who are looking for an elbow sleeve that will help reduce elbow pain and increase stability for those who are serious about powerlifting. Compared to some of sleeves that we will be reviewing, these are considered heavy duty elbow sleeves, and really provide the most support and compression. These Stoic elbow sleeves are tested by professional athletes for serious athletes and are also approved for competition in USPA, IPL, AAU and USAPL for State/Local Meets.
Stoic sleeves are also manufactured out of some of the highest quality materials on the market. These sleeves are manufactured with a 7mm outer panel of neoprene, along with a 5mm thick inner panel of neoprene, while the majority of competitors only feature one panel of neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is widely used in powerlifting sleeves that helps to stabilize joints in a comfortable and flexible way. In my personal preference, this double layer of neoprene felt a lot more comfortable than the single layered competitors I have tried. It definitely felt more secure during my lifts. Throughout my lifts my elbows felt perfectly stable during both the eccentric and concentric phases of the lift, which isn’t always the case with some of the thinner sleeve designs.
Overall this is a quality sleeve for someone that is serious about powerlifting and wants a sleeve that will not only keep them injury-free, but also is approved for a large majority of competitions. Along with this, Stoic provides a quality material and design for these sleeves which will translate to longer use for the user. With this added elbow stability and the durable design, you will be able to simply focus on your lifts.
Nordic Lifting Elbow Sleeves: Minimalmist Sleeve
Our Rating & Price
The elbow sleeves by Nordic Lifting like the Stoic sleeves above are a great option for power lifters who deal with elbow pain, or instability while lifting. This package includes two sleeves. These straps are minimalistic in design, but are simply designed to relieve the pressure and provide support to weaker joints (like elbows).
Unlike the Stoic sleeves, these Nordic Lifting sleeves are manufactured with a single layer panel of neoprene that is 5mm thick. This can be seen as a blessing or a curse. If you are a beginner power lifter, or someone who is just looking for minimal support on your elbow, then you might prefer the single layer of neoprene. The single layer of neoprene gives you a freer range of motion with a small compromise of stability. That being said, this is a perfect option for beginners that either want to prevent an injury, or are focused on recovering from a minor elbow injury or pain.
Along with this another key aspect that Nordic Lifting raves about is the heating properties of these sleeves. The Nordic Lifting sleeves retain heat, which they claim helps to alleviate and reduce stiffness in muscles and joints while lifting. It seems there might me something to heat retention, according to a NCBI article on the Effect of Heat and Cold on Tendon Flexibility,
Heat on muscles can not only increase ligament flexibility and also decrease the force needed to move the muscle. This is beneficial for power lifters because it can help to reduce athletic injuries.
Overall this elbow sleeve is a minimalistic approach to elbow sleeves, but you will see the benefits while you lift. When compared to the Stoic Sleeve above, this sleeve is really design for beginner power lifters, or those looking for minimal protection. If you are looking for a sleeve that is based more around occasional power-lifting or for a beginner, then this Nordic Lifting sleeve will be a good choice.
UncleHu Elbow Brace Compression Sleeve: Our Choice for Cheap Elbow Sleeve
Our Rating & Price
Compared to the two sleeves talked about above, the UncleHu elbow brace and compression sleeve is one of the least expensive options available. The minimalistic design of UncleHu is really great for someone that is bothered with a slight lingering pain, and wants a sleeve to help ease their mind. That being said, it is extremely well reviewed by customers, and has a great simple design to it. NOTE: This sleeve is sold as a single sleeve, while the majority of the other sleeves include two pairs.
This sleeve is manufactured out of 55% nylon, 35% latex silk, and 10% spandex. This material makes this sleeve suitable for someone that is purely looking for some compression on their elbow, as opposed to stability. This is really designed for reducing muscle soreness, and light tendinitis. When compared to the sleeves above, this is really for minor injuries and ailment and isn’t necessarily recommended for high level power lifters looking to lift heavy.
That being said, this sleeve does have it’s uses and benefits. Because of it’s frugal price, this sleeve is a great option if you have a slight twinge in your elbow when lifting, and you want to see if compression will help relieve some of the pain.
Some of the benefits of the UncleHu elbow sleeve is its large amount of application it has. Because of the simple and sleek design this allows this sleeve to not only be beneficial to power lifters but also for other sports including golf, basketball, and tennis.
Overall this is a simple elbow compression sleeve that is a good choice for those that are looking for a lightweight, and inexpensive option for some elbow support. This is a great choice for beginners, and those who are looking at trying out different solutions. Along with this, it comes in three different color styles; all black, black with lime green, and black with orange, for those of you that are fashion oriented.
Mava Sports Elbow Sleeve
Our Rating & Price
This is another elbow sleeve that is designed to add some compression to your elbows, while giving you a healthy amount of support on these weaker joints. Mava Sports was started only a few years ago, and their mission has been to provide workout and training equipment to enhance safety and comfort while lifting. This elbow sleeve is their brainchild on adding comfort and safety to powerlifting.
The Mava Sports Elbow Sleeve is designed to target elbow pain, and eliminate it. It does this by providing the right amount of support and compression to the problem areas. It was originally designed to combat forearm and elbow tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hyperextension pain while power lifting. From the large amount of reviews online, this sleeve not only helps with those ailments but also helps with muscle fatigue and muscle recovery.
Another benefit of this sleeve is its truly comfortable fit. This compression sleeve is designed to be worn during your workouts, but there are constant reviews online of people wearing it all day during their physically intense day jobs, and they’re in love with the fit. This sleeve is manufactured out of bamboo charcoal fiber, spandex, and latex, with the bamboo really being the key to this added comfort levels.
Overall these sleeves give you a nice blend of both support and compression. These are great sleeves not only for those with a hobby of power lifting, but also those that need some elbow support for their jobs as well. If you are looking for a pair of elbow sleeves that are extremely comfortable while still providing support to your elbows, then take a look at Mava Sport.
Inzer XT Elbow Sleeve for Powerlifting and Weightlifting
Our Rating & Price
All the sleeve reviews above have been a mixture of sleeves built for amateurs and sleeves built for committed powerlifters. But, this Inzer XT Elbow Sleeve is the go to elbow sleeve for professional powerlifters and strongmen and women. The Inzer XT Elbow Sleeve has a slightly different design compared to the other sleeves talked about today, it is essentially a mixture between an elbow sleeve and an elbow wrap.
The Inzer XT sleve is an interesting design, it is manufactured out of a mixture of nylon and spandex for the actual sleeve, and then 3 fabric straps on top of the sleeve to add support. These sleeves are definitely designed with elbow support in mind, and the three straps allow you to adjust just how much support you have. As stated in the many online reviews of these sleeves, they are a great choice for people that are currently in rehab for an injury or someone serious about injury prevention. The added support of the elbow straps allows more elbow support, which prevents injury better than compression sleeves without straps.
Along with this, these sleeves are designed without using neoprene, which is better for blood flow and for breathability of the material. Neoprene is the same material that is used in scuba suits, and because of that when a powerlifter sweats, all of that sweat is trapped against the skin. With this neoprene-free design, sweat is allowed to evaporate off the skin, and can help increase comfort.
Overall, this is the best elbow strap for someone that is looking for maximum elbow support. The unique compression sleeve and strap design gives you the best of both worlds, with both elbow compression and elbow support. This added support is great for those coming back from injury, and is recommend for those interested in competing in strongman events as well.
Pure Support Elbow
Our Rating & Price
Our last elbow sleeve review for powerlifting is the Pure Support Elbow Sleeve. This sleeve is the most frugal option in our list, with the price of two sleeves being similar to the price of lunch. Now, just because the price is lower than doesn’t mean, the quality is flawed.
This is another minimalistic designed sleeve, that is mainly based around providing compression to the elbow rather than extra support. While extra support might be a good idea for serious power lifters or those with major injuries, this sleeve still plays its part. If you are someone that is looking for added compression to your elbow for added comfort for a minor injury, then this is the sleeve for you.
This sleeve is manufactured from 70% nylon and 30% spandex, which gives you a comfortable but breathable design. Along with this, the sleeve is fitted with a non-slip band that keeps to keep the sleeve in place, and prevent sliding while working out. Along with this, Pure Support boasts about their advanced knitting technology that not only embraces the shape of your forearm and elbow, but also helps to prevent rips and tears.
That being said, this sleeve is really great for those who have minor elbow arthritis while playing sports or lifting, but isn’t the best option for someone who is looking for protection while seriously power lifting. This sleeve is designed to compress the elbow, but not really to add support to help prevent further injury. I would recommend this sleeve to those who are beginners to power lifting and want to get a taste of elbow sleeves, or to those who need elbow compressions throughout the day.
Elbow Injuries in Power Lifting
Because power lifting is an extremely strenuous sport, it shouldn’t surprise you that injuries can be common, even if correct form is used. According to an Elbow Injury Medical Fellowship, some common elbow injuries for power lifters include Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow), Ulnar Collateral Ligament Sprain (UCL Sprain), Avulsion Fracture, or a Triceps Rupture. The majority of these injuries can be attributed to repeated heavy exercise and or overuse of the elbow during powerlifting.
Some exercises that many powerlifters have occurred elbow injuries from include bench
In a study conducted about Injuries and Damage Caused by Excess Stress in Body Building and Powerlifting more than 40% of injuries occur in the elbow or shoulder. Because of this, elbows are at elevate risk of injury while power lifting.
Preventing Elbow Injuries in Power Lifting
Because of this elevated risk of elbow injury in power lifting, you as an athlete should do everything you can to lower these risks. There are a few different ways to not only lower the chance of injury, but also to reduce the risk of reinjuring an elbow.
According to a study on Weight-Training Injuries, one of the main ways to reduce the risk of injury in power lifting is to train in an environment that is supervised by an experienced and informed coach. These coaches should help to maintain proper form during lifts, and make sure no overuse or over lifting occurs. Along with this, spotting and proper safety equipment should always be used. That being said, if you are doing all of the above, and you want something to give you a little more support for a weak part of your elbow, or you feel a little bit of a sore spot, then elbow sleeves might be able to help.
How Elbow Sleeves Help to Prevent Elbow Injury
Along with this, elbow sleeves are a great way to not only add support to weaker joints in the elbow during lifts, but can also help with muscle recovery. According to a Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy article on Compression Sleeves compression sleeves prevent loss of elbow motion, decrease perceived soreness in forearm and elbows, reduce swelling to prevent injury, and promote recovery of force product. In laymen’s terms, elbow sleeves not only help to support your elbow during lifts, it also can reduce muscle soreness afterwards.
You might be wondering; how do these elbow sleeves actually help prevent elbow injury when I lift?
Thankfully, the sleeves can help in a few different ways. As mentioned above, Medial Epicondylitis, or more commonly known as Tennis Elbow, is an extremely common elbow injury. This injury is often caused by overuse of the muscles surrounding where the forearm meets the elbow which causes inflammation. This injury is often caused by repetitive motions or over-lifting which forces the forearm muscle extensors to help out and overwork. If you are a tennis player that is constantly dealing with this injury, then check out our guide on the best tennis elbow braces. That being said, while lifting, there are quite a few exercises that can cause this injury, including dumbbell curls, upright rows, and often bench press. I personally have seen a few fellow lifters occur elbow injuries through bench press because of over-lifting which causes weaker elbow muscles to try to fill in and end up overworking.
Now, with the help of these elbow compression sleeves, the risk of this type of injury is reduced. Elbow compression sleeves help to provide support and compress the muscles around the forearm and elbow, and help to alleviate added stress. This added stabilization helps to prevent the overuse aspects of power lifting.
Overall, these elbow sleeves although they might not seem like much, can truly help prevent injuries and help relieve current injuries. No matter if you are someone that is just getting into power lifting or you’re a competitive lifter, these sleeves help reduce risk of injury.
Elbow Sleeves Versus Elbow Straps
As mentioned earlier, there are both elbow sleeves and elbow straps. Both sleeves and straps are designed to reduce injury during lifts and sports, but they are slightly different. Elbow sleeves, as you might have gathered from this post, are slip on sleeves that compress against your forearm and elbows. Out of all the elbow sleeves on the market, there are different ranges of thickness and levels of support.
On the other side, straps although they focus on supporting the elbow, are designed slightly different than sleeves. Elbow straps are designed to as the name states, strap around the forearm and elbow to help to stabilize any weaker muscles. One of the main differences between sleeves and wraps is that these wraps are generally Velcro’d around your arm, and can include multiple different straps, while sleeves simply slide right on your arm.
That being said, elbow sleeves generally provide slightly less elbow support than elbow wraps, but generally can be more comfortable. Because of this, we recommend elbow wraps to those powerlifters who are lifting extremely heavy weight, or has a history of elbow injuries. Along with that, elbow sleeves can vary in the amount of support they offer. Because of this, these are great for beginner powerlifters who want a little reassurance, all the way to committed powerlifters who need elbow support to prevent elbow injury.
Final Thoughts on Elbow Sleeves
There are quite a few different types of elbow sleeves on the market today. As mentioned earlier, there are some sleeves that are based more around compression, and some based around support.
The sleeves that are designed with compression in mind are better for those who are looking for a little bit of comfort and stability. They are a better choice for beginning power lifters, and those who have a minor elbow or forearm ailment that want a little bit of relief.
That being said, the sleeves that are designed with support in mind are the heavy duty of the two types. These sleeves are design to provide more support to weaker joints, and are better at preventing injuries like Medial Epicondylitis or Ulnar Collateral Ligament Sprain (UCL Sprain). These are great choices for someone that is a competitive power lifter, or has a history of elbow injuries.
Overall doing your research, knowing when to push through with an elbow sleeve, and when to contact a medical professional will help to reduce your risk of injury and permanent damage when power lifting. As difficult as it is to take time off of lifting, if you are facing a serious injury, it is better to get medical attention and take the time off to recover.