Which tennis elbow brace is best?
Contrary to what the name suggests, you don’t have to play tennis — or any sport, for that matter — to develop tennis elbow. Instead, it can occur with any repetitive motion of your wrist and arm, which sometimes causes the tendons to swell. Fortunately, if you’re dealing with elbow pain, a tennis elbow brace can help protect your tendon from more strain and offer some pain relief.
Tennis elbow braces are available in several different types, so it’s easy to find an option that can help with your specific pain. Getting the size right, though, is crucial to ensuring the necessary support. This top brace from Simien is such a popular option because it boasts durable construction and high-quality materials that provide effective support and pain relief.
What to know before you buy a tennis elbow brace
Before buying a tennis elbow brace, it’s important to consider the type of pain you have and its location. Many different activities can trigger tennis elbow, and the specific repetitive motion that causes the tendon swelling affects how and where you experience the pain.
The severity and type of pain play a significant role in what kind of brace will be most effective for you. The same brace that works well for dull, throbbing pain may not help with sharp, shooting pain. If you’ve just started to experience tennis elbow, consider trying different braces to see which style works best. For severe pain that affects your daily activities, though, it’s usually best to talk to your doctor to see what they recommend.
When it comes to tennis elbow braces, you can choose from several different styles:
- Strap-style braces. These feature a strap that goes around the top portion of the forearm just below the elbow. They have an attached pad that stays in place with a hook-and-loop closure and helps apply pressure to your elbow. This pressure cuts down on vibrations to reduce your pain. Strap-style braces allow you to control the amount of pressure on your elbow, though, so you’re always comfortable. They also provide greater movement than other brace types. The drawback is that most strap braces are one-size-fits-all, which may be an issue for those with especially small or large arms.
- Dual-support braces. This type incorporates two straps, one that goes above the elbow and one below. These braces limit mobility and usually aren’t as comfortable. But by immobilizing your elbow, a dual-support brace can help for those with extreme tennis elbow. These also apply pressure like strap-style braces, but aren’t as focused on a specific area. A dual-support brace is usually pretty affordable and easy to use.
- Compression-sleeve braces apply pressure to the affected tendons in your arm and support the entire elbow. Some feature graduated compression, so the pressure is even across the elbow but reduced near the ends to make it more comfortable. The snug fit of a compression sleeve can help warm the joint to improve mobility and reduce pain. It also helps boost circulation in the elbow. It limits mobility a bit more than a strap-style brace, but also offers more support.
- Compression/strap combination braces are a combination of strap and compression designs. Some feature a separate compression sleeve and strap, so you can use each on its own if you prefer. However, more expensive compression/strap braces feature a compression sleeve with a built-in strap. They apply pressure to the affected tendon while also supporting your elbow. For most people, combination braces are the most versatile and supportive option. It’s essential to get the size right for this style, though.
What a tennis elbow brace is made determines how effective and comfortable it is. Neoprene is one of the most commonly used materials because it offers flexibility and stability. Many strap and compression braces are made with neoprene.
A neoprene brace can be irritating if worn while working out or playing sports, though. Some more expensive braces feature materials like nylon or a nylon blend to move better with the body. Nylon braces also breathe better than neoprene ones.
What to look for in a quality tennis elbow brace
Many tennis elbow braces are one-size-fits-all. For those of average size, a one-size-fits-all brace usually works just fine. However, more users can get better compression and pain relief with braces that come in multiple size options, such as small, medium and large.
Higher-end tennis elbow braces often feature more than three size options, so it’s possible to achieve closer to a custom fit. It’s crucial to measure your arm carefully if you’re buying one of these braces.
The seams on a tennis elbow brace can cause irritation if they’re not properly designed. Avoid braces with heavy, rounded seams that dig into the skin and cause friction. Instead, opt for a tennis elbow brace with flat-seam construction to reduce friction and prevent irritated skin. It also helps to choose an option with flexible seams near the openings to keep the brace from pinching the skin and causing circulation issues.
It’s difficult to judge how comfortable a tennis elbow brace is without actually trying it on. Generally, braces made of four-way stretch fabric and featuring flat seams are the most comfortable.
You can find compression/strap braces with built-in stabilization pads to help support your elbow when you move. Dual-support braces lack pads and instead immobilize the elbow. Some strap braces feature a dial that allows adjusting the pressure on your elbow.
Most tennis elbow braces come in basic neutral shades like gray and black. You can also find some that are beige or nude.
How much you can expect to spend on a tennis elbow brace
Some basic strap and compression braces are available for less than $15, but higher-quality strap-style and dual-support braces typically cost $15-$30. Compression/strap combination braces can range from $30-$50, but the most expensive braces can cost as much as $85.
Tennis elbow brace FAQ
How tight should a tennis elbow brace be?
A. You want your brace to be tight enough to apply even pressure to your tendon, providing support and relieving pain. The brace shouldn’t be so tight as to cut off circulation, though.
How long does it take to see results with a tennis elbow brace?
A. It depends on how severe your injury is, what type of pain you’re experiencing and more. For example, if you are experiencing only mild to moderate pain and use a tennis elbow brace with other treatments like strengthening and stretching exercises, you can see relief in 6 to 12 months.
What’s the best tennis elbow brace to buy?
Top tennis elbow brace
What you need to know: Provides targeted pain relief, thanks to its durable construction and innovative design.
What you’ll love: Made from excellent materials that help the brace last for a long time. Comes with a lifetime warranty. Features a gel compression pad to provide support and relieve pain. The Velcro strap makes for easy adjustments.
What you should consider: It is pricier than other braces, but you’re paying for quality.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top tennis elbow brace for the money
What you need to know: This brace provides effective compression and support to help relieve the pain from tennis elbow.
What you’ll love: Features a compression pad to provide pressure that relieves pain and fatigue. Helps prevent further strain to your tendons. Can fit forearms between 9 and 23 inches.
What you should consider: The brace’s straps can get worn fairly quickly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A brace that’s infused with pain-relieving copper and boasts a comfortable, lightweight design.
What you’ll love: The lighter weight makes it suitable for use in warmer weather, and the nylon blend has moisture-wicking properties. It is infused with copper to help with pain and inflammation. It washes and dries easily.
What you should consider: It doesn’t offer the most compression and can stretch out over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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