Best Tennis Elbow Brace (Our Top 7 Choices for 2018)
Elbow Injuries in Tennis
Any sport that entails repetitive movement carries with it the risk of injury. Injuries in tennis occur regularly. The majority of these injuries are suffered in the lower extremity – knee, ankle, leg, or hip. However, the injuries in the lower extremity during tennis are typically acute injuries. This means that they occurred once and, depending on the severity, were treated and did not resurface as an issue.
Chronic injuries, on the other hand, are recurrent injuries that can plague a player’s career for years. By far, the most common chronic injury in tennis is tennis elbow. Estimates suggest that around half of all tennis players will get tennis elbow at one time or another.
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Bracoo Tennis Elbow Strap
Mueller Tennis Elbow w/ Gel Pad
McDavid 489 Elbow Strap
Zensah Compression Tennis Elbow Sleeve
DashSport Elbow Support System
Simien Tennis Elbow Brace (Pair)
BioSkin Tennis Elbow Skin Brace
Reviews - Best Braces for Tennis Elbow
Below you will find reviews of our top picks for the best tennis elbow braces. They are in no particular order, as we tried to highlight a variety of styles and price ranges, hopefully allowing you to gain a sense of what tennis elbow braces are available and which brace may be best for your own personal needs.
If you are interested in learning more about tennis elbow in general, for example, what tennis elbow is, how braces help with tennis elbow, information about elbow anatomy, etc, please feel free to check out our information below the reviews. There is also a good video tutorial on properly fitting an elbow strap for tennis elbow.
This strap is the most basic design you’ll find for this type of brace. This simple strap can be very effective if placed properly onto the injured area. The Bracoo is also a one-size-fits-all design that can extend is as wide as 11.5” around. Although simple and inexpensive, the tough, sleek design means that it won’t get in your way but still provides good support.
Like most good quality elbow straps, the Bracoo tennis elbow strap comes with a compression pad, and in this case, it's made from EVA material. The fit, and therefore degree of compression, can be controlled by the person wearing due to its highly adjustable wrap design. Furthermore, the adjustability allows it to be used for both lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) as well as medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow). The material itself is composed of 65% polyester, 15% rubber, 12% nylon, and 8% Spandex.
Overall, this is base-level tennis elbow strap; however, its hard to beat for the price. Coming in at one of the cheapest tennis elbow straps available, the quality of design and material is more than suitable for the price, and even if it doesn't end up being the most optimal elbow brace for your needs, it can serve as an excellent starting point to get used to elbow straps and figure out exactly what your personal preferences are. The only downsides to this strap are long-term durability, which can be expected at such a low cost, and the Velcro could be a little bit stronger, but the latter is a minor issue.
This is a one size fits all brace, that comes with the option to buy it as a one or two pack. This brace is a great option for pain relief, and is much more effective then a simple wrap. This is a comfortable and lightweight option and is ideal for a range of activities, from gardening, to golf.
This brace is not made from neoprene, which is ideal for those who may be sensitive to the fabric. Despite that, the fabric is still breathable and lightweight and features an antimicrobial treatment, which helps reduce odour causing bacteria. This brace can easily be worn all day, and will last a long time, making it a good value for the price.
To use this brace, simply place the gel disc on the outside of the forearm, below the elbow. This strap can also be used to treat golfers elbow, or medial epiconylitis. Simply reverse the placement and put the gel disc on the inside of the forearm, below the elbow.
Overall, this is a very versatile, every day option, and it's quite cheap for the price. Mueller is a respected brand, well-known for their knee braces, and they can always be trusted to deliver an excellent product. If you're looking for an everyday, versatile brace for tennis elbow or golfer elbow, than this is a decent choice.
The McDavid 489 elbow strap is similar in design to the Bracoo elbow strap, but it’s different in that it covers more of the forearm than other elbow braces. This may be more appropriate for someone who has bigger forearms, or for someone who has a larger area of pain as a result of tennis elbow. It provides Level 2 protection, which is considered "advanced protection".
Instead of foam, the McDavid 489 elbow strap uses dual Sorbothane pads to compress the affected area (similar to the gel pads in the Simien elbow strap we reviewed below). For this reason, it can be more comfortable and cause less pinching than conventional foam-based designs.
Additionally, this McDavid elbow strap is latex free, and the neoprene construction provides thermal compression therapy and soft tissue support, which these days is coming to be expected, but nevertheless, it's a good quality design. This elbow brace uses a simple hook-and-loop closure system that allows it to be highly adjustable and has a flat-seam construction for a comfortable contoured fit. Moreover, it can be worn on either the left or right arm.
Overall, McDavid is arguably the most reliable brand when it comes to sports medicine products, especially braces. This elbow brace is no different. It's nothing overly fancy, but for such a low cost it will be extremely difficult to find something on the same level. If you're looking for a cheap elbow strap for tennis elbow, we would be very confident in the McDavid 489 elbow strap.
This is a very simple brace that can be used to relieve tennis elbow, elbow tendinitis and golfers elbow. Due to it's slim design, this brace can easily be worn underneath clothing, making it a true, everyday solution.
The fabric is moisture wicking and breathable, and is made from a nylon spandex blend. It also contains antimicrobial properties and is ultra-comfortable. This would be an ideal brace for someone who needs lightweight pressure, all day.
The advantage to using a sleeve over a cuff is that you can preserve the full range of motion of your arm. As well, it looks much more stylish than a typical elbow brace, making it more appropriate for work settings. This elbow sleeve also won't slip down, as it features a 'no-slip' cuff. If you need more compression to the upper forearm area, you can also fold the sleeve up, providing pressure where you need it most.
This is also a great option for preventing injury, as well as treating it, as the sleeve will stabilize the muscles, preventing micro-tears and the development of injuries. Overall, this is a great solution for most people, especially for those that need a simple, everyday solution
The DashSport elbow support system comes in two parts: an elbow compression sleeve and a simple elbow brace as we have seen before. The compression sleeve helps to stabilize and provide comfort to the general area, which is meant to provide relief of sore muscles and improve blood flow.
The brace, like the other simple designs, is a small, sleek unit that compresses a small area of the forearm. Given that this comes with both the sleeve and the brace it is not a universal fit. You will have to make sure to select the proper size for your body type. Even though that may be a little bit of a hassle, as a combination system, the DashSport is one of the most inexpensive products for what you get.
Similar to some other good elbow braces, the DashSport elbow support system comes along with a free e-book, which provides instructions for proper fit, best practices for addressing tennis elbow, and other helpful resources to help you learn more about tennis elbow in general, methods to prevent and manage tennis elbow, as well as possible forms of treatment (although for the latter we would simply suggest chatting with your doctor instead).
The nylon elbow compression sleeve is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and odor resistant, which is a huge bonus, especially if you plan on wearing it while playing tennis. It may not sound like a big deal, but having something that you don't need to constantly wash after every use is definitely a practical consideration. Of course, we would suggest washing it if possible, but if you don't have time, leaving it hanging up to dry should allow you to get a few uses out of it before definitely needing to wash it.
The compression band (elbow strap) has a fairly wide gel pad, so while it still provides targeted compression, it is also a little more comfortable and can provide some forgiveness with placement. Both of these in combination can be worn on either the left or right side.
Overall, this is a really good elbow brace system for tennis elbow. It's a little more complex in that there are two components, but in reality it's as simple as putting on a sleeve before the elbow strap. Even though it's simple, many athletes have come to appreciate the added comfort and stability of the elbow compression sleeve, so if you know you will use it often, we would definitely suggest considering this elbow brace system.
This is another elbow strap to help address pain associated with tennis elbow, but in this case, you actually get two straps, so it's pretty good value. Additionally, you will receive an e-book entitled "Addressing Tennis Elbow Pain", which provides instructions for the elbow straps, as well as more general information on treating tennis elbow and preventing further problems. There is one additional bonus as well, which is a wrist sweat band, but we didn't really factor this into the review due to the fact that it doesn't really matter for tennis elbow.
This Simien tennis elbow strap comes with a compression gel pad, which are usually a little bit better than air pads that you may commonly see in similar elbow straps. The design itself is fairly basic, which can actually be a good thing, because it allows for versatility in how you wear it. For example, if you have problems with tennis elbow and golfers elbow, you can wear them differently to address each problem.
The material is 65% neoprene and 35% nylon, which allows it to be considered "one size fits most". However, do keep in mind that the actual logo is natural rubber, so if you're sensitive to latex, you may want to be careful of this elbow strap.
Overall, these Simien elbow straps are very well-liked by customers and offer excellent value. You may notice the price is a little higher than similar elbow straps, but this is mainly because you receive two elbow straps instead of just one, so if good value is what you're after, then we would highly recommend considering this elbow strap.
The BioSkin tennis elbow brace is sort of a hybrid between the simple elbow strap and the two-part sleeve-strap combination that we reviewed above. The BioSkin elbow brace features an elbow sleeve with a cinch strap for the forearm muscles. The most important attribute of this type of design is that you won’t struggle with the strap moving around during play or during workouts, which is definitely a practical consideration.
However, because it is only a strap with a thin and wide silicone pad that is compressing the area, some athletes might not find that pressure is sufficient to minimize pain. Once again, because it is a sleeve design, picking the right size is important. The nature of this design also means that it can be a pain to readjust and take on and off so keep your needs in mind when researching what will work best for you.
This tennis elbow brace is known to be quite durable, as it is constructed with BioSkin's proprietary ultra-thin and ultra-strong Ultima material. This material is latex-free and neoprene-free, so is typically considered hypo-allergenic. The main downside to this material is that it stretches over a long period of use; however, once you wash the brace it will regain its original shape no problem.
Overall, this is a highly comfortable elbow brace for tennis elbow that is a favorite among many athletes. However, the enhanced comfort comes at the cost of slightly less targeted compression, so it essentially boils down to a matter of personal preference. If you're someone who prefers larger straps, then this could be a great option. On the other hand, if you're looking for a more simple design with highly targeted compression, you may want to look around at some other design.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is known in the sports medicine community as lateral epicondylitis. To understand how and why this injury occurs it is important to understand some basic anatomy. The elbow is a hinge joint formed by the meeting of the upper arm (the humerus bone) and the two bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna).
The structure of the joint is maintained by a series of ligaments that run in different directions across the elbow. As you are probably aware, the muscles of the arm move the joint through its regular range of motion. These muscles attach at various points on and around the elbow joint.
One of the main areas these muscles attach, particularly muscles of the forearm, is the lateral epicondyle. The lateral epicondyle can be thought of as a rough, raised area on the outside of the humerus, basically as close as you can get to the elbow joint. When the same movement is repeated over and over, the tendons that attach these muscles to the lateral epicondyle become agitated and can begin to degenerate.
Epicondylitis that is left untreated can further degenerate the area, resulting in a chronic, recurring injury. You may also hear tennis elbow referred to as a tendonosis, which can be easily confused with tendonitis. Where tendonitis is an inflammatory response to injury or damage involving the immune system, tendonosis is a degeneration and repair of the tendon.
How Does a Brace Help Tennis Elbow?
Treatment for epicondylitis varies on a case-by-case basis. From a short-term perspective, ice should be used while resting and avoid pain. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are also often used. For long-term treatment, there are a number of options. Corticosteroid injection is a common method. This treatment helps the body heal the affected area and can be effective.
However, recent research has suggested that physiotherapy that combines mobility movements and targeted exercise can be more successful. One of the best aids for recovery can be an elbow brace. While a review of available scientific literature doesn’t suggest that a brace alone is better than physiotherapy, but when combined with physiotherapy, a brace may contribute to a recovery regimen, both by improving helping with treatment and giving the wearer a feeling of confidence.
In this way, a brace can help even more once you’re returning to the court by giving you peace of mind. The main mechanism by which a tennis elbow support helps with recovery and prevent re-injury is by firmly holding the muscles and tendons of the forearm in place. This can help prevent them moving unnecessarily, reduce wearing of the tissues, and prevent or minimize pain.
Below is an informative video about tennis elbow and how to fit a strap for tennis elbow:
Frequently Asked Questions About Tennis Elbow
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
There are several factors which can cause joint pain in the elbow. The most common factor is overuse, which is caused by a repetitive or strenuous activity straining the muscles and tendons in your forearm. Other factors include banging your elbow or a chronic injury.
Injury can occur whether it's your first time, or hundredth time. The most common activities that cause tennis elbow are:
- Raquet or throwing sports
- Gardening (especially with shears)
- Manual work (ex. plumbing)
- Activities involving repetitive hand/wrist movements (ex. typing)
- Activities involving bending the elbow (ex. playing the violin)
Do I Need a Brace?
A brace is a good option to deal with and decrease pain, and help you get back to your regular activities. However, it won't permanently solve your tennis elbow, and in fact might cause worse pain in the future if left untreated. Braces are good in conjunction with other methods, and should be included in any treatment plan. If you are experiencing forearm pain, you should see a doctor before attempting to self medicate.
How To Treat Tennis Elbow
The most important aspect of any treatment plan is allowing the tendons to rest. Depending on the severity of your tennis elbow, you may need weeks or even months to properly heal. The important thing is that you treat tennis elbow as soon as symptoms start to appear. Ignoring the problem can cause worsening of your condition and surgery may be required in the future.
A physiotherapist is a good option if the pain continues. A physiotherapist can use an ultrasound to identify where the pain is, and then use massage techniques to treat and lessen pain. Pain can also be treated with medicines. Your doctor should always be consulted. For mild pain, pain-killers or anti-inflammatories can be used, or topical cortisol creams. For severe pain, your doctor may inject steroids or Cortisone to help with pain. As a last resort, surgery may be required for severe cases
Is a Compression Sleeve or a Strap Better for Tennis Elbow?
Both are effective for treating tennis elbow pain, however, each has their own advantages. A strap can be adjusted to fit, or to give more pressure, whereas a sleeve can provide heat over the effected area. Heat is an effective remedy for older injuries, or for non acute pain. Sleeves also support the entire joint, which can help treat other injuries, in addition to tennis elbow. Both options work well and what you choose will depend on personal preference.
How to Take Care of an Elbow Brace.
The best option is to hand wash your brace and lay flat to dry, however, you can also wash it on delicate in a washing machine. Just be careful as velcro can get destroyed in the wash. Braces should be changed every 2-3 years due to loss of elasticity and compression.
How to Wear an Elbow Brace
A tennis arm band is useless if you don't put it on properly, and not all products contain detailed instructions. Here's how to put on a tennis elbow arm strap.
- Rest your elbow on a soft service and use your fingers to locate the spot that is the most painful on the lateral, or upper part of your forearm, just below your elbow.
- From that spot, measure 10cm down your forearm. That is where you'll place the hard part of the brace.
- After placing the brace on the spot, wrap the velcro strap around until the strap is firmly fastened. Make sure that the strap does not cut off your circulation, but also, ensure the strap is tight enough to reinforce the lateral muscles.
How to Treat Tennis Elbow at Home.
- The RICE Method: The RICE method, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation, should be the base of any treatment plan for tennis elbow. Stop the activity that caused the pain in the first place and rest immediately. Ice should be used in the first 24-48 hours to help with swelling. Ice your elbow for 15-20 minutes multiple times a day. Try tightly wrapping the area while elevating your arm, to reduce blood flow and prevent swelling.
- Tennis Elbow Exercises and Stretches: There are several stretches which have been proven to reduce pain and prevent stiffness from setting it. However it's important to ensure that you don't overdo it, as you may make pain worse. Read below for more stretches for tennis elbow.
- A Healthy Diet: A healthy diet can help indirectly control tennis elbow by preventing inflammation. Avoiding added sugar, high-sodium food, saturated fats, alcohol and processed grains can reduce inflammation. Consuming green leafy vegetables, high quality proteins, and foods that are high in potassium and magnesium can help your body repair damaged tissue. Bone broth has also been shown to improve tissue health due to the collagen.
What are some stretches for Tennis Elbow?
- Eccentric wrist stretch: Place your forearm on a table, and let your wrist hang off the edge. Hold a light weight, preferably five pounds or less, and slowly drop your wrist. Lift your wrist back up and repeat.
- Forearm extensor stretch: Stretch the affected arm straight out in front of you. Turn your arm inwards and bend your wrist, with your fingers pointing outwards. With your other arm reach under the affected arm and grab your fingers. Oull inwards and hold for 10 seconds
- Forearm flexor stretch: Stretch your affected arm straight infront of you, palm facing up. Bend your wrist so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor. Use your other arm to reach across and grab your fingers, pull back and hold for 10 seconds.
- Hand and grip strengthener: In your affected arm, hold a tennis ball and squeeze for 3 seconds at a time. Slowly work your way up to 10 second increments.
What are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain in the bony know on the outside of the elbow. The pain may also affect the upper and lower arm. Pain will be especially noticeable when you make a fist, or have to grip something. You may also notice pain when you raise your hand. You may also experience tenderness on the outside of the elbow, stiffness in the elbow in the morning, or a soreness in the forearm muscles.
If you experience pain on the inner part of your arm, you may have golfer's elbow. Check with your doctor to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis.
What is the Recovery Time of Tennis Elbow?
Recovery times vary, depending on the nature and severity of your injury. Recovery can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years although symptoms might disappear before that. However, it's important to ensure your injury has healed completely, as tennis elbow can easily reoccur.