If you’ve landed here I’m assuming that unfortunately you’re probably are suffering from tennis elbow and looking for a good quality elbow brace to help alleviate your pain. Although it’s commonly called “tennis elbow”, people that play all different sports (including other racket sports like racquetball, squash, and pickleball – as well as golf and other sports) have to deal with chronic elbow pain.
I’ve personally had tennis elbow so many times over the years that my Dr. tells me at this point it’s actually considered “chronic tendonitis” of the elbow and just need to manage it by wearing a brace when I play, doing a proper warm-up before and rehab exercises when I’ve off the court. Because of that, I’ve tried all different kinds of braces and straps over the years.
I use this one by Simien, for the price, this type of simple counterforce brace does do the trick for a lot of users, but there are other styles of straps, braces and compression sleeves that might work better for you depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing and your personal preference. We’ve included detailed reviews of several others below.
2020 Update: I’ve since upgraded to this Tennis Elbow Brace by Bauerfeind. It’s a very high-quality brace, they’re made in Germany and used by many professional athletes – but does come at a much higher price so may not be the best option for everyone
Contrary to the name, the problem of tennis elbow is not just limited to sports. For a large percentage of people, it is work-related based on their occupation: repeated lifting or repetitive motion throughout the day (typing or using a mouse for many hours a day or drivers that repeated turn a steering wheel are just a few examples).
We’ve covered tennis elbow in detail in a separate article here (or “pickleball elbow” as some pickleball players are calling it), but we’re here to offer reviews of the best elbow braces for tennis elbow.
There are a few different popular styles available on the market (straps, braces and compression sleeves) and depending on your personal preference you may find one works better for you. Hopefully, the following analysis will help you select the best option for you.
How do elbow braces help?
The main function of an elbow brace is to put “counter-force” or direct pressure onto the outer side of the elbow, normally around the thickest part of the forearm. This pressure on the extensor muscles (extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). The brace reduces the tension of the muscles at the point they attach to the lateral epicondyle and thereby reduces the pain.
Do braces really help reduce tennis elbow pain?
Although braces are a temporary solution to the problem, studies have shown that they do work to reduce pain. This study found that people with tennis elbow who wore either a strap or sleeve style support had an immediate increase in pain-free grip strength.
From personal experience, I find they do really help – I feel immediate relief that lasts while I play wearing a strap style brace. However, for long term relief you should be doing strengthening exercises for tennis elbow and if pain persists should visit a doctor and/or physical therapist.
Apart from using an elbow brace when I play, I do use the Theraband Flexbar that my physical therapist recommended to rehab my elbow when it flares up.
I wrote a detailed review of the Flexbar here along with an explanation of the exercises and how it helped me-if you are interested in checking that out.
Best Braces For Tennis Elbow: 2020 Reviews
Top Elbow Pad – Simien Tennis Elbow Counterforce Brace
Simien’s tennis elbow brace is a plain strap style counterforce brace that goes around the high part of the forearm and puts direct pressure on the tendon. This style band with velcro closure has been around for a long time. I’ remember first using this style band at least 15 years ago. They are one of the most simple braces but also very effective for many tennis elbow sufferers. This particular model and brand feature quality materials, including neoprene and nylon, which are both durable and comfortable.
The strap is fairly easy to adjust. The manufacturer states that it features “one-size“, which means that it will fit virtually everyone from petite women to larger men. The design of this tennis brace will stretch without uncomfortable tightening repercussions, so as to accommodate the needs of people with a different build.
Last, but not least, you’ll get a set of free bonus items –at least these were included at the time of writing this article. The purchase includes a complimentary sweat wristband, as well as the E-Book called “Addressing Tennis elbow pain“, the brace is also sold as a 2-count pack.
It’s not really clear why you would need two of these – since you would normally only wear it on your dominant arm that you use to stroke your racquet. Although I guess it’s not a bad thing to have two – you could keep an extra one in your bag just so you never find yourself on the court without it. Or if you play multiple sports you could leave one in your golf bag, another in your gym locker, etc…
I’ve used this one and like the simple design, you just put the cuff around the thickest part of your forearm and velcro it tight- you can easily adjust it during play if you need to tighten or loosen the amount of pressure.
Top Elbow Strap -McDavid 489: -Best Elbow Brace for Tendonitis and Tennis Elbow
McDavid’s 489 elbow brace is another one of the top braces we’ve come across. It’s plain, straightforward, and it simply works like a charm for most players.
Essentially, this brace helps to relieve the wearer of negative elbow symptoms accumulated through muscle pressure and stress – this means that not only tennis and pickleball players are to benefit, but golf, basketball, and virtually all other athletes as well.
This brace features dual sorbothane pads – these pads provide the efficiency of McDavid’s brace, as they put targeted pressure where you need it and reduce vibration.
Lastly, this brace boasts a flat-seam construction – this means that you should expect better comfort as there are no seams to dig into your skin while it still provides a tight fit. As with any of these counterforce braces, you need to be logical with the amount of pressure you use when tightening the strap, it should provide pressure without cutting off blood flow. Luckily they are easy to adjust even in the middle of a match.
Some other cheaply made straps have a thick seam on the inside which can be uncomfortable over time and actually leaves a deep mark in your skin which eventually goes away after you take them off- but better if you can avoid this with a brace like this one from McDavid.
Top Dual Support – Bracoo Elbow Brace, Neoprene Sleeve
Dual support braces like this one by Bracoo are usually less comfortable when compared to plain straps and may be cumbersome to use while playing. However, they do provide additional elbow joint support in addition to the negative effects of tennis elbow – dual support braces put an increased amount of targeted pressure and are ideal for people who have already been experiencing elbow pain extending beyond a very localized spot that the strap would hit.
This particular model features a 4-way fabric construction – this means that it will exert the pressure at and around your elbow as the straps cross over and around the joint.
The level of support is adjustable and quite easy to use due to plain velcro strap design.
Mueller Adjustable Elbow Support
This elbow support by Mueller has a very similar design to the Bracoo model above with adjustable straps above and below the elbow. The wraparound neoprene keeps your arm well supported but also traps in body heat to keep your muscles warm which can help prevent injury.
While this is one size fits most, several reviews have commented that the sizes tend to run a little small, making it a great option for women, youth or anyone with a smaller elbow circumference
Elbow Compression Sleeve – Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Support Sleeve
Compression sleeves are another option you have available if you are looking for equal pressure around the entire elbow and bicep rather than just the localized pressure that a strap provides. This style of sleeve is also popular among other sports besides tennis due to the large coverage of the upper arm can be good for injuries caused by weightlifting or other strenuous exercises.
This model from Kunto Fitness offers you plenty of protection, as well as the promise of effective pain relief for tendonitis or elbow injury. The Kunto elbow compression sleeve features premium-quality durable yet breathable materials that are both tight and stretchable.
Combo tennis Elbow Brace Compression Elbow Sleeve
Players who may be debating between a compression sleeve and an elbow strap may want to consider this combination of elbow brace and compression sleeve – this set offers both in one kit and is the best value for the money, compared to buying them separately.
This combination set features a premium-quality elbow pad/strap and compression sleeve. The sleeve is made of flexible material and allows a normal range of movement and the 2 in 1 combo pack makes for a versatile solution.
Lastly, you’ll also get a complimentary book entitled “8 Tips to cure your tennis elbow“, which should provide you with useful guidelines on how the braces should be worn to address your pain beyond the temporary relief that the supports provide.
Bauerfeind EpiTrain – Best Quality Elbow Support
If you are really serious about getting high-quality elbow support you might want to consider this one by Bauerfeind. This German company specializes in orthotics, selling professional, medical-grade supports, sleeves and braces.
They have been making orthotics for over 80 years and have won several product design awards. Bauerfeind products are all made in Germany which is known for very high product standards and especially for medical devices.
The company makes some of the best orthopedic supports for everything from foot and ankle braces, hand and wrist support, shoulder, knee braces, and elbow supports.
Bauerfeind has been an official partner of the Olympic Games since 2010 in Vancouver and is also used by many professional athletes. While watching the recent 2018 Winter Games (PyeongChang) I noticed some of the best Olympic athletes were wearing some kind of Bauerfeind orthotics.
However, all this goodness does come at a cost. The supports sell for around double (or triple) the price of a lot of other standard braces on the market. As with most quality products, to a certain extent – you do get what you pay for.
I have personally not used this elbow brace but I have a friend who plays pickleball and doubles tennis who raves about this elbow support. He has chronic elbow tendinitis and says there really is no comparison to all the other sleeves he’s tried over the years.
Just looking at his brace up close, I can see it’s a quality product (the elbow is sewn in a tapered angle that matches the angle of your elbow) and the pad that put pressure on the tendon is well sewn into the soft knit fabric).
The Bauerfeind support also comes in 7 different sizes which shows it’s not just a generic sleeve (a lot of sleeves come in one-size-fits-all or come in small, medium, large, XL) whereas Bauerfeind is based on the exact circumference of your forearm.
Customers who have bought the sleeve have mentioned that it’s critical to get the sizing correct which makes sense since the sleeve needs to be the right size to be snug (to put enough pressure on the tendon) without being so tight it cuts off circulation.
One other complaint is that the tag on the inside can be irritating so it needs to be cut off (carefully so it doesn’t cut into the actual brace which is a knit fiber than if cut can unravel).
There are close up photos here, with one clear image giving instructions on the sizing. Getting the right size is relatively easy – you basically measure 4 3/4 down from your elbow (measuring towards your wrist) and then take measure the circumference at that point to determine the correct size (Bauerfeind sizes are 0-6).
While I can’t give my own personal recommendation based on first-hand experience – I have yet to invest in this sleeve just based on the price. However, based on my friend’s stellar recommendation I have put it on my wish list. – *Since writing this original article, I have bought this elbow support and agree it really is high quality, but do recognize that the price point will deter many from buying it as it’s not cheap. If you’re serious about investing in a good strap or maybe have tried others ones without success this is worth it, however if you are just buying your first tennis elbow brace you may want to try one of the ones above before making the investment.
As I get older and my elbow gets worse (and other aches and pains) it does seem that investing in a really good quality brace might be worth it as it seems like a definite step up from others on the market. Click here if you want to read reviews from customers who have recently bought the Bauerfeind EpiTrain Elbow Support.
If you’d like to know more about the Bauerfeind company and their quality control you can click here to visit their website, they also offer a 12-month guarantee on all their orthopedic products.
Hopefully, this overview of the types of braces on the market and detailed reviews of the individual options have helped you with your decision. As mentioned, studies (and personal testimonials) show that they do provide relief for many players.
While they are not a silver bullet that will rid you completely of pain, they can make the difference between completing your match or having to cut the afternoon short due to elbow pain. The key, in my opinion, is to use one of these braces for temporary relief but off the court, you need to put in the time and effort to do the rehab and exercises to get permanent relief.