Why Wear Compression Arm Sleeves?
You might have seen runners or triathletes wearing arm sleeves, and they are fast becoming popular across a whole range of sports. Both professional and amateur athletes see them as essential to their training, but why wear compression arm sleeves? In this article we will look at whether they actually provide a beneficial effect, or whether they are simply a new fad in the world of fitness.
What is a Compression Arm Sleeve?
Compression arm sleeves are designed to apply a constant pressure to the muscles in the arm. They are usually elasticated and made from fabric to ensure a comfortable fit, and those who use them find that they help with performance and aid with recovery. This benefit mainly comes from the sleeves’ ability to increase blood flow to the area.
What Do Compression Arm Sleeves Do?
The compression applied to your arm by the sleeve is beneficial in a number of ways. Some of them are listed below:
By providing extra compression to your arms you will increase the blood flow that passes through, and therefore increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles. This enables you to keep going for longer, helps with faster recovery once you have finished, strengthens your muscles to help prevent any future injury, and assists people who have sustained previous injuries.
Wearing a compression sleeve on your arm can speed up recovery from strenuous activity and assist with areas that have been damaged by injury. This is because of two effects of the compression.
The first is that tired muscles are able to recoup better when they have pressure applied, and the second is that the increased blood flow provides more oxygen to the area because a much larger volume is passing through and de-oxygenated blood returns to the heart and lungs faster. This is particularly helpful in cases where blood flow has been reduced by injury.
Compression sleeves are really good at helping to maintain a constant, comfortable temperature no matter whether you are playing outdoors, indoors, in hot or cold climates.
By compressing the muscles they will loosen. This means they won’t feel as sore during activity and recovery as they would without the sleeve.
The sleeve provides an extra layer that will help to protect your arm from minor injuries like scrapes and bumps.
Do Compression Arm Sleeves Work?
It is difficult to know for certain if compression arm sleeves actually work, but athletes certainly wouldn’t be wearing them if they didn’t feel like they were benefitting from it. They are often seen being worn by triathletes who will need to spend time to put them on during transitions. If they didn’t believe it was worth losing a few seconds to do this that they can make up later, then they wouldn’t bother.
The science at work with compression arm sleeves is sound, though. With the right amount of compression, dilation will occur within the arterial walls, which means far more blood can pass through them. The constriction of the arteries also means that the blood moves faster through them, so the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are made available to the muscles is greatly increased, as well as the body’s ability to remove the waste products that have formed during muscle use.
Extra Features of Arm Sleeves
While the main aim of an arm sleeve is to apply compression, the fabrics used in making them can provide some useful additional benefits too. They can include:
- Graduated compression applies different pressures to different parts of the arms and can affect the blood flow accordingly
- More comfortable designs that don’t have seams so you get a perfectly uniform effect around the muscle
- Material that is designed to regulate temperature more effectively than the benefit of compression alone
- Moisture wicking formulas that will keep your arm feeling dry throughout the activity
- Anti-microbial properties that will prevent the buildup of odors that develop from sweating.
The Bottom Line
Compression arm sleeves are becoming more popular with both professional and amateur athletes because of the performance and recovery improvements they provide. By increasing blood flow, training becomes more efficient because muscle mass can be built quicker, recovery improves, and overall ability is enhanced.
It’s not only athletes that can benefit from them, though, as the typical gym goer or runner will find that they, too, perform better and recover faster. They are also really helpful for people who have sustained injuries to their arms, as this can reduce the blood flow to some areas. So, why wear compression arm sleeves in this situation? It can help to counteract the reduction of blood flow and help to heal and rebuild muscles where once it was proving to be somewhat tricky.