Whether you’ve picked up tennis as part of your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions or were just inspired to give it a shot by the Australian Open, you know it can be a fun way to get a good workout. But, like any ball and racquet sport, it can take a toll on your elbows if you’re not careful. Fortunately, a good brace can help with injury prevention and recovery in the joint. So, without further ado, here are the best Tennis Elbow braces and how to pick the best one for you.
What’s Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow is an injury affecting the lateral (outer) epicondyle, the tendon attaching your forearm muscles to the bony protrusion of your elbow joint. As an overuse injury, it develops with repetitive motion. When you repeatedly hit a ball with a racquet, your forearm muscles fatigue, making your lateral epicondyle tendon pick up the slack. And over time, this excess strain can cause microscopic tears and inflammation.
As a result, you may experience pain when you try to grip or lift things, swelling around the elbow, and stiffness when you try to flex your arm, fingers, or wrist.
Picking out the perfect Tennis Elbow Brace
There are a few key things you’ll need to keep in mind when picking our elbow brace:
- Fit. Braces for injury support and recovery rely on compression and padding for stabilisation and pain relief. For the compression to do its job, it must be snug without being too constrictive. And for the pads to work, they’ll need to squarely sit where they’re intended to sit. You’ll also need to make sure the sizing mechanism or system is suitable to your anatomy.
- Material. The only good compression is medical-grade compression, which you’ll only get from quality knit braces, sleeves, and supports.
- Purpose. Not all elbow braces are suitable for Tennis Elbow, and not all Tennis Elbow braces do the same things. And on that note, let’s explore the best ones for the job.
Sports Elbow Strap
As we mentioned, Tennis Elbow is a repetitive motion injury that occurs when stress migrates from your forearm muscles into your lateral epicondyle. Hence, a good solution would be to support the forearm muscles, so they have less chance of fatiguing.
Our Sports Elbow Strap, for example, is a compressive strap with a five-point gel pad. This composition improves how you activate your forearm muscles, helping them act as a better support network for your lateral epicondyle. With that support in place, you’ll reduce your risk of developing the condition. You’ll also be able to get back on the court sooner if you already have it, as the gel pad also works to relieve the pain commonly associated with the condition.
The strap’s anatomical contouring and patented Boa closure system, meanwhile, means it will fit like a glove.
Sports Elbow Support
The Sports Elbow Support is a compression sleeve that works on a similar principle. Its compression knit and gel padding work to support and stabilise the forearm muscles to help prevent elbow injuries. As the compression fabric covers the elbow and some of the forearm and upper arm, it offers a bit more support. Additionally, the knitted fabric improves circulation in that area and reduces the formation of edemas (your body’s inflammatory agents).
Like the Sports Elbow strap, it's also anatomically contoured, with sizing guides to help you find your perfect fit.
While the Sports Elbow Support is great for supporting your elbow through intense activity and preventing Tennis Elbow, the EpiTrain is built for recovery and active use. Its knit and fabric are specifically formulated to alleviate swelling, stiffness, and pain, all symptoms commonly associated with overuse injuries. And if your case of Tennis Elbow is particularly acute, you can add on the EpiTrain strap for better support and more intense pain-relieving effects.
Honourable mention: Sports Wrist Strap
You read that right. Elbow braces aren’t the only thing that can help you avoid or manage Tennis Elbow. A good wrist strap can come in pretty handy, too, especially during practice or a match.
Put simply, your forearm muscles activate when your fingers flex, move, or clench - all motions common in tennis. If you have weak wrists or a poor grip, your forearm muscles will need to compensate, leading them to tire out faster.
Wrist support (like our Sports Wrist Strap) will help improve your grip and your wrists’ stability. As a result, your forearm muscles will need to do less stabilisation work, meaning they’ll take longer to tire out.
Learn more about what wrist straps can do: Weightlifting Wrist Straps: Why Wear them?
As we always say, braces are an important addition to injury prevention and recovery, but you shouldn’t rely solely on them. When it comes to tennis elbow, you’ll also need to:
- Strengthen. Making sure your grip and forearm muscles can withstand the demands of the game is vital to prevent them from fatiguing and quitting. You can try out some exercises we discussed in our article on Golfer’s Elbow and do some fist clenches - either with a grip strengthener or by squeezing a rolled-up towel for a few reps.
- Rest. This isn’t just an important step in injury recovery. You should also give your hands, elbows, and forearms sufficient breaks between your games and practice sessions so your muscles and tendons can bounce back. And remember, tennis elbow isn’t just caused by playing tennis. Typing, playing an instrument, gaming, and even cooking can overstrain the lateral epicondyle. So, if you’re feeling itchiness or stiffness around your elbows or forearms, avoid using your hands as much as you can.
- And last but not least, see a physio or a doctor if you feel something’s off. The earlier Tennis Elbow gets diagnosed, the sooner you’ll be able to recover.
To sum up
Tennis Elbow can be an irritating condition that can impact your games or even stop you from playing. The good news is, a well-fitted, quality brace and some other key measures can help you manage it (or even avoid it entirely).
Play a lot of tennis? Check out our range of tennis supports: Tennis Support Braces
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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