A brace can be a helpful asset in treating and recovering from tennis elbow. If you tried shopping for an elbow brace, you already know the options are plentiful. So what is the best tennis elbow brace for you?
To break it down, there are two basic things to consider when choosing a tennis elbow brace: type and elements. The type is the basic structure of the brace and the elements are all the details that affect fit, comfort, and performance.
Types of Tennis Elbow Braces
The majority of elbow braces can be broken down into three types:
- Epicondylitis clasp. An epicondylitis clasp is built specifically to your arm to push on a pressure point of the lateral epicondyle muscle. This can relieve pain associated with tendonitis in the elbow. These style of elbow brace are quite effective in pain relief, but also quite expensive since they have to be professionally made and fitted.
- Elbow Strap. An elbow strap is a thin strap, usually 1 to 2 inches across, that wraps around the forearm. It is placed just below the elbow joint and, like the epicondylitis clasp, works with pressure points to be effective. The difference is that elbow straps are adjustable instead of professionally fitted which makes them less expensive.
- Elbow Sleeve. An elbow sleeve is a brace in the form of a tube that covers a section of the arm around the elbow joint. An elbow sleeve offers structural support and can provide compression benefits as well.
Elements of the Best Tennis Elbow Brace
- Materials. Ideally, you want to choose a tennis elbow brace that has high quality materials. Also consider your personal preferences in material texture, flexibility, and color. For example, a person with a latex allergy may want to avoid spandex materials in their elbow sleeve.
- Seams. Before purchasing an elbow brace, check how the seams are created. A rough edge or protruding seam can make wearing the elbow brace really uncomfortable. High quality elbow braces will have smooth seams, both inside and out, to avoid chafing.
- Adjustable Features. Many elbow braces will come with certain features that are adjustable like straps, ties, or clasps. Check the structure of the adjustable features because they will be the most vulnerable part of the brace. How a sleeve is adjustable can also affect the fit and comfort level, so take that into consideration.
- Range of motion. Decide before buying an elbow sleeve how much movement you want to be able to do with your elbow. A brace with plastic or metal pieces will provide more support, but will also limit your range of motion. Alternatively, a compression sleeve will allow for a wide range of motion, but will have less support.