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  • Writer's pictureCompression Athlete

Compression Sleeves That Noticeably Help Pickleball Elbow

Top picks to manage pain on the court and prevent it moving forward.

Athlete playing pickleball.

You likely won’t recall a specific moment playing pickleball when the pain in your elbow started, as it isn’t one backhand in particular that causes this injury.


If you’re suffering from pickleball elbow, then you’re experiencing elbow pain from an overuse of your forearm muscles.


In other words, it’s all of those backhands, forehands, serves, and volleys that culminated in the burning sensation that’s now making it so difficult to grip and swing your paddle.


And while the term pickleball elbow has a playful ring to it, in reality it’s no joke.


Not only is it painful enough to sideline athletes, but that pain can extend beyond the court to impact everyday maneuvers, as well.


Thankfully, there are effective options for treating and preventing pickleball elbow that are readily available to athletes.


One of the most effective options for pickleball elbow is use of a compression sleeve.


Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about utilizing compression sleeves for pickleball elbow, including our top picks and how to prevent pickleball elbow moving forward.



Note: Featured products are independently selected and reviewed by Compression Athlete. If you purchase through our links, we may earn commission.



What Is Pickleball Elbow?


For starters, the medical term for pickleball elbow is lateral epicondylitis.


This is the pain or burning sensation that occurs on the outside of your elbow when the tendons attached to your elbow experience overload from repetitive motions.


While lateral epicondylitis is more commonly known as tennis elbow, the emerging popularity of pickleball has given the elbow pain of these athletes its own specification.


The nature of pickleball requires players to make quick reactions and multiple paddle swings over the course of a match (much like in tennis), hence it’s routine appearance among players and the origin of the condition’s nickname.


Those repetitive motions that involve forceful forearm muscle contractions can place a great deal of stress and strain on the tendons that attach to the bony bump of your elbow.


Athlete swinging pickleball paddle.

This repeated stress can cause tiny micro-tears in those tendons, which results in the elbow pain and inflammation.


Note, however, that while this injury refers specifically to the elbow, the actual pain you experience may extend beyond your elbow into your forearm, wrist, and hand.


Also, despite its sport-specific moniker, pickleball elbow can occur in individuals outside the realm of pickleball.


Any individual that engages in sports, activities, hobbies, work, etc. that involves repetitive motions from the wrist and forearm can experience lateral epicondylitis (i.e. pickleball elbow).



How Does Wearing a Compression Sleeve Help Pickleball Elbow?


Pickleball requires quick movements and repetitive paddle swings, making compression sleeves a natural fit for the sport.


Perhaps the most common use of compression sleeves in pickleball is to treat pickleball elbow (lateral epicondylitis), as tendonitis is more likely to occur in sports with repetitive motions.


Wearing a compression sleeve while playing pickleball can help prevent lateral epicondylitis from occurring or ease your symptoms if you’re currently experiencing it.


Pickleball players wearing compression sleeves.

The compressive pressure applied by the sleeve increases blood flow to the arm, which in turn relieves muscle tension and reduces inflammation.


Additionally, compression sleeves offer additional muscle support and stabilization by reducing muscle vibrations and increasing proprioception, which is our ability to perceive the position and movement of our body.


Compression sleeves can also help your muscles warm up faster prior to activity and aid in recovery afterwards by improving your circulation and muscle oxygenation, reducing your chance of injury.



What Are the Best Compression Sleeves for Pickleball Elbow?


If you’re looking for a compression sleeve to manage the symptoms of your pickleball elbow while active, a compression elbow sleeve or compression support strap is typically the best option.


An elbow sleeve covers the entirety of your elbow and extends an inch or two beyond in both directions for additional support, while a support strap offers targeted pressure to relieve tendonitis pain.


Compression elbow sleeves allow you to support, stabilize, and protect your elbow while relieving pain and prioritizing the unique movements of your elbow joint.


Here, we’ve put together a list of the best compression sleeves for pickleball elbow.



1. Copper Compression PowerKnit Elbow Sleeve


Athletes wearing Copper Compression PowerKnit Elbow Sleeve.

Shop at Copper Compression: Copper Compression PowerKnit Elbow Sleeve


The Copper Compression PowerKnit Elbow Sleeve features seamless PowerKnit technology for superior stability and support. This compression elbow sleeve utilizes copper-infused nylon fabric, stay-put silicone grips, and 4-way stretch for a full range of motion.



2. Copper Compression Recovery Elbow Sleeve


Athletes wearing Copper Compression Recovery Elbow Sleeve.

Shop at Copper Compression: Copper Compression Recovery Elbow Sleeve


The Copper Compression Recovery Elbow Sleeve both supports your elbow with durable copper compression and enhances muscle recovery by boosting circulation. This compression elbow sleeve has interior grip zones, 4-way stretch, and stay-fresh copper-infused material.



3. Body Helix Elbow Compression Sleeve


Athlete wearing the Body Helix Compression Elbow Sleeve.


The Body Helix Compression Elbow Sleeve features a comfortable and supportive fit that applies uniform medical grade compression to your entire elbow joint and surrounding muscles and tendons. This compression elbow sleeve is available 3 color options and 4 sizes for a custom fit. 


For 15% Off Use Discount Code: CompressionAthlete



4. Copper Fit Freedom Elbow Sleeves


Athletes wearing Copper Fit Freedom Elbow Sleeves.

Available on Amazon: Copper Fit Freedom Elbow Sleeves


The Copper Fit Freedom Elbow Sleeves feature a performance fabric blend with moderate compression support for a perfect fit with superior joint comfort. These compression elbow sleeves have 4-way stretch, a stay-put reinforced band, and are copper infused to reduce odors.



5. Copper Fit Ice Compression Elbow Sleeve


Athlete wearing Copper Fit Ice Compression Elbow Sleeve.


The Copper Fit Ice Compression Elbow Sleeve features a unique menthol-infused design to release a cooling sensation while providing copper-infused support. This compression elbow sleeve has 4-way stretch and a comfortable anti-chafing seamless knit.



6. Shock Doctor Compression Knit Elbow Sleeve with Gel Support


Shock Doctor Compression Knit Elbow Sleeve


The Shock Doctor Compression Knit Elbow Sleeve with Gel Support features gel inlays for additional targeted support in a comfortable elastic knit design. This compression elbow sleeve utilizes a breathable and moisture-wicking weave pattern and moderate contoured compression support at the joint.


Also available in classic knit without gel support.



7. Shock Doctor Tennis Elbow Support Strap


Shock Doctor Tennis Elbow Support Strap


The Shock Doctor Tennis Elbow Support Strap utilizes targeted air cushion for even pressure to relieve tendonitis pain. This compression elbow strap is specifically designed for tennis and golf elbow with a soft brushed lining and a premium Z-Grip adjustable closure.



8. McDavid Active Comfort Compression Elbow Sleeve


Athlete wearing McDavid Active Comfort Compression Elbow Sleeve.


The McDavid Active Comfort Compression Elbow Sleeve features a lightweight and breathable fit that’s moisture-wicking, supportive, and pain relieving. This compression elbow sleeve provides moderate support with 4-way stretch that’s designed for performance.



9. GO SLEEVES Elbow Compression Support Sleeve


Athlete wearing GO SLEEVES Elbow Compression Support Sleeve.


The GO SLEEVES Elbow Compression Support Sleeve features embedded kinesiology strips for targeted support that’s specifically designed for tennis and golfer’s elbow. This compression elbow sleeve has comfortable Jacquard knitting with 4-way stretch.



What Is the Best Treatment for Pickleball Elbow?


If you’re experiencing pickleball elbow, you likely have a tender and painful feeling on the outside of your elbow that may also be radiating down your forearm.


This pain likely increases when you try to grip and lift objects with your affected arm or make any twisting motions with your forearm or wrist.


The good news is that there are several treatment methods available to help get athletes back on the pickleball court.


While it may not be the favorite option among active individuals, rest is always the best place to start.


It’s important that you allow the tendons in your arm to heal by avoiding activities that further aggravate the pain. After all, this is an overuse condition.


Athlete applying cold therapy to pickleball elbow.

Wherever possible in your routine, modify motions and activities that involve gripping and placing strain on your forearm tendons.


Additionally, utilize cold therapy to help reduce inflammation in the affected area, whether an ice pack or cold compress.


You can apply this anytime throughout the day but is especially helpful when applied right after activity.


When it comes to managing your pickleball elbow during activity, whether on the court or performing other repetitive motions, compression sleeves work best for reducing strain on your tendons, supporting your muscles, and offering a full range of motion.


If you’re looking for quick and effective treatment for your pickleball elbow, a combination of each these methods will provide the best results.



The Best Cold Compression Sleeves for Pickleball Elbow Treatment


When you’re suffering from pickleball elbow, one of the best ways to apply cold therapy treatment to your elbow is with a cold compression sleeve.


These sleeves deliver cold therapy in an easy-to-wear compression sleeve that’s flexible, comfortable, and stays put for on-the-go treatment.


Here, we’ve compiled our top picks for the best cold compression sleeves.



1. McDavid Flex Ice Therapy Compression Sleeve


The McDavid Flex Ice Therapy Compression Sleeve features a flexible gel sleeve design that delivers 360-degrees of compression and either cold or hot treatment and is 100% leak proof.


Athlete wearing McDavid Flex Ice Therapy Sleeve.


McDavid’s Flex Ice Therapy Compression Sleeve utilizes an easy pull-on design that stays-in-place while on-the-go. This cold compression sleeve freezes in 2 hours for cold therapy and heat in the microwave in 30 seconds.



2. Rapid Reboot Cold Compression Sleeve


The Rapid Reboot Cold Compression Sleeve features a flexible and 100% leak-proof soft-gel design for quick and targeted cold or hot therapy. This cold compression sleeve comes with freezable packaging and can be used for up to 15 minutes of treatment.


Athlete wearing Rapid Reboot Cold Compression Sleeve.


Rapid Reboot’s Cold Compression Sleeve is available in 3 sizes for a custom fit and can be applied to wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs.



3. Freeze Sleeve


The Freeze Sleeve features 360-degrees of cold compression therapy with an easy slip-on design that’s fully flexible and doesn’t require wraps or straps. This cold compression sleeve utilizes a Hydra-Gel that stays soft when frozen to allow for comfort over bending joints.


Athletes wearing Freeze Sleeves.

Available on Amazon: Freeze Sleeve


The Freeze Sleeve can provide both cold and heat therapy and help relieve pain in the legs, knees, ankles, forearms, elbows and wrists. This cold sleeve is available in several colors and multiple sizes to accommodate various areas of the arms and legs.



What Stretches and Exercises Help With Pickleball Elbow?


If you’re looking to get back on the court faster, here are some stretches and exercises you can incorporate into your recovery process to improve flexibility, reduce tension, and promote healing.



1. Wrist Extension Stretch & Strengthening Exercise


Extend the affected arm forward with your palm facing down.


Use your other hand to gently bend your wrist backward, opening your palm upward in a “stop” signal.


When you feel a stretch in your forearm, hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.


Add a light dumbbell to turn this into a strengthening exercise.


Hold the dumbbell with your palm facing down and your forearm resting on your thigh or a hard surface.


With your wrist hanging off the edge of the surface, lift the weight by extending your wrist upward then slowly lower it back down.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.



2. Wrist Flexor Stretch and Strengthening Exercise


Extend the affected arm forward with your palm facing up.


Use your other hand to gently bend your wrist downward, pointing your palm toward your body.


When you feel a stretch in your forearm, hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.


Add a light dumbbell to turn this into a strengthening exercise.


Hold the dumbbell with your palm facing up and your forearm resting on your thigh or a hard surface.


With your wrist hanging off the edge of the surface, flex your wrist upward then slowly lower it back down.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.



3. Forearm Pronation/Supination Stretch and Exercise


While keeping your affected elbow tucked close at your side, raise your forearm to create a 90-degree angle at your elbow.


Slowly rotate your palm up and hold for 5 seconds. Then slowly rotate your palm down and hold for 5 seconds.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.


Add a hammer or light dumbbell to turn this into a strengthening exercise.


Slowly rotate the hand holding the weighted object so that your palm faces up. Then slowly rotate so that your palm faces down.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.



4. Grip Strengthening Exercise


Grip a soft rubber ball in the hand of your affected arm. Squeeze the ball, holding the tension for a 5 second duration.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.



5. Resisted Elbow Flexion and Extension Exercise


With your affected arm, hold a can or light dumbbell in the palm of your hand with your palm facing forward.


Slowly bend your elbow so that your hand arcs toward the shoulder of your same arm. Then slowly lower your arm back to the starting position.


Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.



How Can I Prevent Pickleball Elbow?


Whether the pain in your elbow is finally subsiding or you haven’t yet experienced pickleball elbow and want to keep it that way, there are steps you can take to prevent pickleball elbow from occurring.


Remember, pickleball elbow occurs from overuse—too much strain placed on the tendons attached to your elbow.


So, to prevent pickleball elbow you’ll want to take steps toward reducing that strain while better preparing your muscles to handle pickleball motions (or whatever activity is causing your lateral epicondylitis).


A great place to start is by warming up and stretching before engaging in strenuous physical activity.


Pickleball players high-five on the court.

Use the stretches outlined in the previous section to target your forearm and wrist muscles, preparing them for activity, and thus reducing your risk of injury.


Additionally, use the exercises outlined in the previous section to build up the strength in your forearm muscles.


This will help provide support and stability to the tendons that attach to your elbow while you’re active.


While you’re active, consider wearing a compression sleeve or support strap to better support your elbow and reduce strain on your tendons.


Not only will a compression sleeve improve stabilization to your elbow while you’re active, but it will also improve muscle recovery by improving blood flow to the applied area.


Another important factor is to focus on the movements you’re making on the court.


Using the proper swing technique and grip on your paddle will go a long way toward reducing your chance of injury.


Consider taking lessons or devoting quality time to tutorials and other educational resources that will help you learn proper pickleball form.



Now might also be a good opportunity to try out this increasingly popular recovery trend. Discover how red light therapy can help your pickleball elbow heal faster and promote faster muscle recovery.

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