Carmelo Wear Arm Sleeves

Sports Compression Sleeves: Do They Really Work?

In Athletic Fitness and Training, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Sports Advice, Team Sports, Trends by Trip10 Comments

Iverson with Arm Sleeve

Iverson with Arm Sleeve

Lately you can’t watch an NBA, MLB or NFL game without noticing the pervasive presence of arm and leg sleeves on many of the players. Another thing you’ll notice is the variety of sleeves that the players wear both in terms of color and style. Robert Griffin III (RG3), Johnny Manziel, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade are just a few of the notable athletes you’ll see wearing an arm sleeve and in some cases a leg sleeve. Are these sleeves just a fashion statement or do they serve a purpose? The simple answer is both. RG3 has explained that he wears a sleeve because being stylish gives him confidence, but the majority of professional athletes wear sports sleeves for compression purposes. Sports compression sleeves became popular when Allen Iverson started wearing a white arm sleeve for his elbow bursitis in 2000.

Sports compression sleeves are designed to squeeze blood vessels causing them to open forcefully. This allows more oxygenated blood to reach compressed muscles which helps lower your heart rate. Compression sleeves have actually been in existence for over 60 years and were originally intended to treat venous disorders like thrombosis. A 1987 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that compression garments lowered blood-lactate levels and blood pooling. Both blood lactates and blood pooling can cause swelling and reduce performance. Lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream during intense exercise and causes muscle soreness. Another study in the 2007 Journal of Sports Science had a study group of males wear compression apparel during 10K time trials and found that muscle soreness was significantly reduced by wearing compression leg sleeves.

Quarterback Forearm Sleeve

Quarterback Forearm Sleeve

In both of these studies sports compression sleeves were worn to improve performance and reduce soreness. However, compression garments are also worn by athletes recovering from injury in an effort to speed up the healing process. Any damaged muscle tissue or strained ligaments need positive circulation and time to heal. Improving circulation can not only reduce recovery time but some experts believe that keeping the muscles warm can also reduce the chance of re-injury.

The NBA rumor mill has been circulating a story that Carmelo Anthony started wearing arm sleeves for protection after multiple altercations with Kevin Garnet left his arms scratched and bloody. Like Allen Iverson, Carmelo also suffers from elbow bursitis so he may actually be wearing an arm sleeve to aid in healing and recovery. Arm compression sleeves worn in the NBA are often referred to as basketball shooting sleeves. They are worn to keep the shooting arm warm and prevent muscles from tightening up. One of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA, Ray Allen, wears a basketball shooting sleeve.

While several studies have shown that sports compression sleeves can improve blood flow and reduce soreness they can’t make you a better jump shooter or a more accurate quarterback. Sports compression sleeves have been proven to help increase blood flow and lessen recovery time but don’t expect your shooting percentage or pitching accuracy to improve without practice, proper training and good coaching. Any athlete that takes themselves seriously should be ready to compete, anytime, anywhere, anyplace… CA3!

Carmelo Anthony Wearing Compression Sleeves

Carmelo Anthony Wearing Compression Sleeves

About the Author of “Sports Compression Sleeves: Do They Really Work?”:
Trip Albagdadi is a regular guest contributor to the iM Sports Blog. His work has been featured in numerous online as well as traditional print publications.

Photo Credits for “Sports Compression Sleeves: Do They Really Work?”:
“Iverson with Arm Sleeve” – Keith Allison via photopin cc
“Quarterback Forearm Sleeve” – JustinWalker26 via photopin cc
“Carmelo Anthony Wearing Compression Sleeves” – Keith Allison via photopin cc

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What’s Your Take On Compression Sleeves?

Comments

  1. Duane

    My comment is a concern/question. I coach youth basketball and a couple of players have started to wear mouth guards and sleeves. My concern s are: is there choking danger with mouthguards and is circulation a problem with the sleeves?

    1. Author
      Trip

      Coach Duane, Most mouth guards are pretty big and have numerous holes in them so I don’t think choking is a major hazard. I think the kids have started wearing sleeves because they see their favorite superstars on the NBA court wearing them. I don’t know that circulation is an issue but compression sleeves can reduce soreness. Then again if you’re 12 years old are you ever sore?

    1. Author
      Trip

      Again, I think young kids are just emulating their favorite NBA players by wearing shooting sleeves. They can reduce soreness but at that age I don’t know that soreness is an issue. They probably just want to look like Lebron or Steph Curry.

  2. Mike

    I wanted to address the circulation problem. Compression sleeves will not cause blood constriction or circulatory issues as long as the arm sleeve is not worn for excessive periods of time (10 hours+ at a time) and if the fit and size is proper.

  3. Jonah

    I really liked this article because it really helped me understand why so many athletes wear sleeves.

  4. Frank Combs

    Excellent article. Thank you, I use compression sleeves and fingerless gloves while doing my day to day work. Less ache at the end of the day.

  5. Isaac

    Yeah most kids that use it though are either fanboys of their favorite player or is actually working hard and working out like my son he doesn’t watch basketball that much and uses it for the purpose it is intended for

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