Pickleball Elbow or Tennis Elbow From Playing Pickleball?
If you’ve landed here I’m assuming that unfortunately you’re probably 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’m off the court. Because of that, I’ve tried all different kinds of braces and straps over the years.
For the past couple of years, I used this one by Simien. For the price, this type of simple counterforce brace does do the trick for a lot of users, especially if used in combination with the Theraband Flexbar which was recommended to me by a physical therapist.
However, there are other styles of straps, braces, and compressions sleeves that might work better for you depending on the type of pain you are experiencing and your personal preference – we cover those below.
There are also topical treatments like Biofreeze that can give you some immediate relief.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis is caused by the overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm and elbow. This can occur from activities that require repetitive motions of the arm and wrist, such as playing tennis or other racquet sports, weightlifting, painting, carpentry, or even opening jars. The condition is also seen in people who work at jobs that require these types of motions on a regular basis.
If you have been diagnosed with lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, your doctor may have recommended that you wear a tennis elbow brace. Wearing a tennis elbow brace can help to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with this condition.
Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow (lateral aspect), weakness in grip strength, and pain when extending the arm fully. The pain is often worse with activity and improves with rest. You may also notice a creaking sensation when moving your affected arm. Tennis elbow braces are designed to provide support and stability to the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint while still allowing for full range of motion. They typically feature straps or pads that apply pressure to specific points on the forearm to help relieve pain. Some braces also have heat or cold therapy built-in to further reduce swelling and discomfort.
Wearing a tennis elbow brace is one treatment option for managing lateral epicondylitis symptoms. In most cases, it is recommended that you wear your brace for at least four weeks while continuing your normal activities as tolerated. You should start to see an improvement in symptoms within two to three weeks. If you do not experience relief after four weeks of wearing your brace during daytime hours only, please consult your physician about other potential treatments options including physical therapy referral, injection therapy, or surgery.
If you experience relief from your symptoms while wearing your tennis elbow brace, you can continue to wear it as needed. Some people find that they only need to wear their brace during activities that aggravate their symptoms, while others may need to wear it all day for several months. Once your symptoms have resolved, you can gradually stop wearing the brace as tolerated.
But let’s get back on point- we’re here to offer reviews of the best elbow braces for tennis elbow. Hopefully, the following analysis will help you select the best option for you.
Simien Tennis Elbow Counterforce Brace ( 2-pack )
|Simple & effective
|The velcro can sometimes loosen
|Uses comfortable quality materials
|Overtime the brace can be hard to keep tight
|Easy to adjust
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. This particular model uses neoprene and nylon, which are comfortable materials.
The design of this tennis brace will stretch without uncomfortable tightening repercussions, so as to accommodate the needs of people with a different build.
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. 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.
Top Elbow Strap -McDavid 489: -Best Elbow Brace for Tendonitis and Tennis Elbow
|Simple and effective
|Return policy could vary
|Flat seam construction for ultimate comfort
|Sizes run small
|Targets pressure only where you need it
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
|Ideal for pain beyond a localized spot
|Easy to use
|Feels sturdy and supportive
|Strong, durable materials
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
|Provides additional elbow support
|One size fits most
|Velcro strap erodes overtime
|Ideal for pain beyond the localized area
|Traps heat to prevent injury
|Easy to use
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
Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Support Sleeve
|Large pain coverage around the elbow
|Sizes run big
|Durable and breathable
|Hand wash only
|Can maintain full range of motion
|100% satisfaction guarunteed
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.
Simien Elbow Brace + Sleeve Compression Combo
|Two-in-one compression sleeve and elbow strap
|Not a high end / high performance compression sleeve
|Great value for the money
|Velcro can wear out over time
|Allows full range of motion
|88% copper and 12% spandex
|100% guarantee that the brace will last
This compression sleeve and elbow strap set offers a both-in-one kit for those debating between a compression sleeve and an elbow strap. This set also includes a free e-book containing exercises and therapies that can help further address your tennis elbow pain, making it the best bang for your buck.
This sleeve is 88% copper nylon and 12% spandex, which allows for a normal range of motion.
The Simien flexible rubber twist bar would be great to use off the court to strengthen the tendons and have more flexibility. This twist bar is one of the best-priced twist bars on the market due to its patented 3-in-1 resistance bar levels.
Bauerfeind EpiTrain – Best Quality Elbow Support
|Price is a bit higher
|Sizing is critical
|Pads that put pressure on the tendon
|7 different sizes
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 has been an official partner of the Olympic Games since 2010 in Vancouver and is also used by many professional athletes.
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 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. I have since bought this elbow support and agree it really is high quality.
The elbow is sewn in a tapered angle that matches the angle of your elbow. Also, the pad that puts 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.
It is critical to get the sizing correct because the sleeve needs to put enough pressure on the tendon, without being so tight that it cuts off circulation.
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 that can unravel).
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).
If you’re serious about investing in a good strap or maybe have tried other ones without success, this is worth it.
If you’d like to know more about the Bauerfeind company, click here to visit their website. They also offer a 12-month guarantee on all their orthopedic products.
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 Pickleball 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.
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 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.