Three Factors in Choosing an Elbow Brace

Not all elbow braces are the same. How do you know which one is right for you? Here are three things to consider before buying one.

Man fishing mountain backdrop
Fly fishing elbow is just as bad as tennis elbow. An elbow brace can help reduce the pain.Robson Hatsukami Morgan via Unsplash

Your golf elbow is acting up (again). Or maybe it was all those fish you had to reel in last weekend. Whatever the reason, you think maybe those Wimbledon dudes are onto something with their elbow braces. But, how to choose? Elbow braces come in a bewildering mix of types and styles. All of them are designed to reduce pain or support the joint, or both. Choosing the best one for your needs can be boiled down to three factors—purpose, style and value.

Purpose of the brace

Kunto knee brace
Sleeves like this provide great compression support that alleviates repetitive stress injuries like tennis elbow.Kunto Fitness Products

Identify the problem you are trying to address with an elbow brace. Is it a repetitive gripping injury like tennis elbow, causing your forearm tendons to swell painfully? Are you recovering from a hyperextension injury? Understanding what pain you're trying to reduce or the support you need will help you decide which brace is best for you.

Style

Mars Wellness elbow brace
Elbow injuries may need more support. Braces like this one feature adjustable straps to help with immobilizing the joint.Mars Wellness

The style of brace you need depends on the problem you are trying to address. An elbow strap, armband or sleeve may be all you need to help with your tennis elbow, but a hyperxtension injury might call for immobilizing brace or one using pads for support and compression.

Value

Nordic Lifting elbow brace
Good reviews plus a one-year warranty make this product a good value.Nordic Lifting

There are some inexpensive straps and sleeves on the market that may well be a good choice for you, particularly if you're anticipating only moderate use. Some of these, however, won't hold up after a couple washings, so a more expensive brace might actually save you money. Product reviews are a great place to check on durability and value.