Best Tennis Elbow Braces

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

51 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
753 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best tennis elbow braces

Last Updated July 2019

Tennis, golf, typing, basketball, and any number of other activities that involve the repetitive motion of the arm, elbow, and forearm can result in painful tennis elbow. This condition can prevent participation in favorite activities, and for some it may limit the ability to work. Tennis elbow can gradually progress until treatment is needed, while at other times a specific injury can cause the condition to suddenly manifest. Either way, a solid tennis elbow brace is part of a well-rounded treatment plan.

Several types of braces can be found on the market, and many are highly effective in the right circumstances. The right one for you depends on the nature and severity of your injury. It also depends on which type is the most comfortable and convenient for you to wear.

We've put together this shopping guide to give you an overview of the types of braces available, as well as the features you’ll want to consider. Finally, don't forget to take a look at our top picks.

Tennis elbow can be identified by pain located one to two centimeters below the elbow and weakened wrist and forearm muscles. Poor muscle tone, incorrect form, and the use of repetitive motion can all lead to these symptoms.

Key considerations

Pain type and location

Not all tennis elbow pain results from playing tennis. The severity, type (sharp and shooting or dull and throbbing), and location of your pain should heavily influence your decision. If your pain is just starting, you might want to try a couple different brace styles to find the one that works best for you. However, if your pain is severe and limiting your activity level, we suggest consulting your physician for treatment and brace recommendations because some brace styles work better for certain types of injuries.

Brace type

  • Strap-style: These braces consist of a single strap that fits around the upper part of the forearm a few centimeters below the elbow. The strap has a pad that's held in place with a hook-and-loop fastener and applies direct pressure to the tendon. The pressure changes the strain on the affected tendon and reduces vibration. This type of brace allows you to adjust the pressure to your comfort level. It also allows more freedom of movement than compression sleeves, dual-support, or combination braces. Not all, but many of these are one-size-fits-all braces, which can be a problem if you're smaller or larger than average.

  • Dual support: These braces have two straps, with one attaching below and one above the elbow. They reduce mobility and comfort but are often used to immobilize the elbow area when an injury causes pain beyond regular tennis elbow. The pressure applied isn’t as targeted as that of a strap style, and this brace doesn't offer the range of motion or improved circulation that comes with a compression sleeve.  However, it’s inexpensive and easy to take on and off.

  • Compression sleeve: This type applies pressure to the affected tendons while also supporting the entire elbow joint. Models with graduated compression apply even pressure across the joint and reduce pressure toward the sleeve openings. The materials used to make compression sleeves also help keep the joint warm, which can aid mobility and prevent pain while improving circulation. A sleeve offers slightly less mobility than a strap-style brace, but some people like the extra coverage and joint stability it provides.

  • Compression/strap combination: This type of brace utilizes the best of both designs. Some models consist of two separate pieces – a compression sleeve and a strap. This design allows you to use either piece independently or together for more targeted pain relief. The most effective – and expensive – model on the market is a compression sleeve with a built-in strap. This one-piece style protects the joint while applying pressure to the tendon. Many of them require careful sizing for a good fit. For people who need to wear a brace daily, a combination model provides the best versatility, support, and stability.
DID YOU KNOW?

With the right brace, many people find that pain subsides and grip strength returns. However, when used in conjunction with hot/cold therapy and physical therapy exercises, recovery happens much more quickly.

Tennis elbow brace features

Graduated compression: A sleeve with graduated compression applies even pressure over the elbow joint but gradually reduces pressure toward the ends of the sleeve so as not to cut off circulation. A sleeve without graduated compression would apply even pressure over the entire surface of the brace.

Seam construction: Seams are a common source of skin irritation because of the pressure necessary to treat pain. Heavy, rounded seams can dig into the skin. Look for flat-seam construction that limits localized pressure. The ends of a compression sleeve can also cause discomfort from uneven pressure. Look for sleeves with flexible seams at the openings and graduated compression to prevent circulation problems.

Comfort: Unfortunately, it's hard to tell how comfortable a brace is until you try it on. Size, materials, and seam construction can all make a difference in how it feels. For example, people with sensitive skin may opt for a material other than neoprene, which can be irritating to the skin. Heavy seams pressing into the skin can also be a source of discomfort. Check for comfort features like flat seams and non-irritating four-way stretch fabric.

Materials: Neoprene is commonly used to make all kinds of braces because it’s flexible yet strong enough to offer stability. It’s used to make effective strap- and compression-style braces. However, it isn’t necessarily the best material on the market because it can cause skin irritation in some people, especially when used during athletics. High-end elbow braces use four-way stretch fabrics like nylon and nylon-like fabrics that move with the muscles but have better breathability than neoprene. On the downside, these braces tend to be expensive.

Size: One-size-fits-all braces may be easier for manufacturers, but they don’t always result in the best option for you. If you’re of average size, a one-size-fits-all model will probably work. However, for the best compression and pain relief, models that come in small, medium, and large offer better fit and pain relief. A few of the more expensive braces come in as many as seven sizes for a more customized fit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take careful measurements to find the brace that offers the best support for your frame and body size.

Stabilizing technology: Some compression/strap combo braces have built-in stabilization pads that massage the elbow as you move. Others, usually dual-support models, limit the range of motion to reduce pain. A few strap braces have a dial that independently adjusts the pressure without the need to tighten the strap. That may save the fastener, but it doesn’t necessarily offer better pain relief. Your injury may or may not require stabilization. Your physician can tell you if you need a brace that has any of these extra features.

Color: Braces aren’t known for their colorful patterns, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one with a design that appeals to you. Black and gray with a complementary color are the most frequent options, though there are a few braces made in a neutral beige color.

EXPERT TIP

Some braces contain built-in stability pads that limit mobility but increase stability. These braces should not be machine washed because it can damage the fabric.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tennis elbow brace prices

Inexpensive

Basic strap- and compression-style braces start at less than $15. Strap-style braces have a compression pad that must be placed over the affected tendon. The compression sleeves at this price point offer low-level compression and may not offer graduated compression.

Mid-range

Between $15 and $30 are strap-style braces with flat seams and compression braces that apply even pressure across the full elbow joint. Dual-support models may be found at this price, and some braces come two to a pack.

Expensive

In the $30 to $50 range, the combination braces (both one and two pieces) and strap models with adjustable pressure dials start to show up. You might also see a dual-support model that can be used for hot or cold therapy.

Premium

The most expensive braces on the market top out at around $85 and could go higher as the technology advances. These models include four-way stretch fabric and compression sleeves with a built-in compression strap. They have built-in stabilization technology and can be found in a number of color choices.

Tennis elbow braces lose their elasticity over time. If cared for according to the manufacturer's instructions, a frequently worn brace may last two or three years. However, that time may be shortened with heavy use or improper care of the brace.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Hand-wash and air-dry your elbow brace regularly. This is a general rule. You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and care.

  • Consult your physician about your tennis elbow. Tennis elbow typically results from overuse (chronic), though an immediate (acute) injury is possible, too. A brace relieves pain but doesn’t eliminate the symptoms of tennis elbow. Your doctor can recommend stretches and strengthening exercises to fully address the issue and potentially eliminate the problem.

  • Try a tennis elbow brace for other elbow-related conditions. Though these braces are called “tennis elbow” braces, one can be used for any number of elbow injuries. They’re often recommended by physicians for various conditions and can be used to treat pain on the inside and outside of the elbow.

Other products we considered

We narrowed down our choices to those that offer a good combination of pain relief and price. However, there are a couple of impressive models that didn’t make our list. The Bauerfeind EpiTrain has an internal support system with a graduated compression sleeve and a built-in compression strap. This combo brace is hard to beat when it comes to performance, but that means it’s an investment that may only be worthwhile if you’ll be using it every day. The Nordic Lifting Elbow Compression Sleeve is another good pick we considered. We like the graduated compression across the elbow joint and the nylon fabric for people who are sensitive to neoprene or latex.

Recovery from tennis elbow or an elbow injury varies by individual and the severity of the injury. Using a brace in conjunction with stretches and strengthening exercises can help relieve tennis elbow in six months to two years. However, for some people, it could be a chronic condition.

FAQ

Q. Are braces that have hot/cold insert pockets okay to use while playing sports?

A. These braces are designed for therapeutic use rather than while playing sports. However, they allow you to do hot or cold treatments while moving normally about your day.

Q. How tight should the strap or compression sleeve be?

A. The brace needs to put enough pressure on the tendon to change the way it functions when forces act upon it. While compression sleeves and straps need to be tight, they should never cut off your circulation, which can be noted by a tingling sensation or lack of feeling. Models that come in several different sizes provide better pressure customization than one-size-fits-all models.

Q. When measuring my arm for a sizing chart, should the arm/forearm be flexed or relaxed?

A. Measurements are almost always based on a relaxed arm bent at a 90° angle. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions before measuring or ordering.

The team that worked on this review
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