If you're here I'm assume you 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 (and racket sport, golf, etc) have to deal with chronic elbow pain. 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 (straps, braces and compression sleeves) and depending on your preference you may find one works better for you. Hopefully the following analysis will help you select the best option for you.
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 and reduces the tension of the muscles as they attach to the lateral epicondyle and thereby reduces the 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.
Simien's tennis elbow brace is a plain strap style brace that goes around the high part of the forearm and puts direct pressure on the tendon. This style of band with velcro closure has been used for a long-time. I've remember first using this style band at least 15 years ago. This particular model and brand features 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 – the design of this tennis brace will stretch without uncomfortable tightening repercussions, so as to accommodate the needs of people with 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 complementary 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.
McDavid's 489 elbow brace is one of the finest braces we've come across. It's plain, straightforward, and it simply works like a charm for most pickleball 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 are "responsible" for 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 is still provides a tight fit. Some other cheaply made straps have thick seam on the inside which can be uncomfortable over time and actually leave 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.
Dual support braces like this one by Bracoo are usually less comfortable when compared to plain straps, but they 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.
Compression sleeves are another option you have available if you are looking for equal pressure around the entire elbow and bicep rather that just the localized pressure that a strap provides.
This model from Kunto Fitness offers you plenty of protection, as well as the promise of pain relief. Kunto elbow compression sleeve features premium-quality materials that are both tight and stretchable.
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 well priced compared to buying them separately.
This combination set features a premium-quality elbow pad/strap and compression sleeve.
Lastly, you'll also get a complementary book entitled "8 Tips to cure your tennis elbow", which should provide you with useful guidelines on how to address your pain beyond the temporary relief that the supports provide.
If you are really serious about getting a 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 supports for everything from foot and ankle braces, hand and wrist supports, 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 several Olympic athletes that 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 a my own personal recommendation based on first hand experience - since I have yet to invest in this sleeve just based on the price. However, based on my friend's seller recommendation I have put it on my wish list.
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.
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.