How to Choose an Elbow Brace
What is an elbow brace?
An elbow brace is a physical device used to stabilize and protect weak, injured or recovering elbows. According to Safe Work Australia statistics, there are around 3,000 serious claims by elbow injury yearly from 2010-2015. These injuries may be caused by accidents, sports or from long-term usage. An elbow support can also be used to prevent injuries from occurring during exercise or playing sports. How to choose an elbow brace can be dependent on what type of injury you have.
Our elbow is one of the most important joints in our body. It connects the upper arm which is called Humerus and a pair of lower arm bones called Radius and Ulna. Our elbow is a hinge type joint, which allows extension and flexion movements.
If you’re moving your forearm towards your body that is called flexion, and the opposite movement is called extension. Just imagine yourself drinking a glass of water. Getting the glass of water and putting it in your mouth is flexion and placing it back in the table is called extension.
Our elbow is one of the most frequently used joints in our body, we do hundreds of flexion and extension movements in a single day. Which means, injuries and pain due to overuse is very common. An elbow brace comes handy in these types of situations, both for protecting and hastening recovery of the injured elbow.
Purpose of the elbow brace
An elbow brace can be used for a variety of purposes depending on the need. One of its popular uses is to support and protect the elbow while playing sports like football, basketball, tennis, golf and others. With proper training and equipment injuries to the muscle, tendon and joints of the elbow can be prevented.
But when injuries do happen an elbow brace can also be used to hasten the healing of the injured elbow. They can stabilise the injured elbow and provide relief from golfer’s and tennis elbow, tendonitis, over extension and other related injuries.
Elbow braces promote healing through compression and warmth that increases blood flow. They also control movement so that no further injuries can happen.
There are also elbow braces which totally limits the movement of the elbow joints. They are used to minimize pain and swelling. They also promote the healing of the ligaments after an injury or surgical operation of the elbow. This is a reason why you should be careful on how to choose an elbow brace for the specific need of your injury.
Additional Info: Before you check which type of elbow brace you need, check the difference between strains vs sprains.
Types of elbow braces
There are several types of elbow braces that we can use depending on its purpose and your preference . The following are some common types of elbow braces :
Strap type elbow brace
A strap type brace is placed on the upper part of the forehand just below the elbow. It’s one of the most simple and probably cheapest elbow braces, it’s designed to put pressure on the tendons.
It is very effective in helping people who suffer from tendonitis, golfer’s and tennis elbow. The elbow strap is easily adjustable and is usually made of neoprene and nylon.
An elbow support works similar to the elbow strap. The main difference is that instead of having 1 strap it has 2 straps, below and above the elbow. It also has a wrap around neoprene connecting the straps to support the arms and elbow.
The neoprene material warms the muscles and keeps blood flowing which helps prevent injuries. Both straps are also adjustable so it can fit any size of user.
A compression sleeve covers the lower arm, elbow and upper arm. So instead of placing localized pressure using elbow straps or elbow support, it places equal pressure on a larger area which covers the compression sleeve. Its compressive action warms the muscles and helps the blood flow.
There are also products that combine the features of a compression sleeve and elbow support. They can be value for money since you’re getting both features in a single product.
Protective elbow braces
You also have protective elbow braces, which essentially secure the elbows by totally limiting its movement. This type of brace is used right after an injury or after a surgical operation of the elbow. They are used to reduce swelling, pain and promote healing of the muscles and tendons.
Braces with adjustable range of motion (ROM)
This type of brace is similar to protective elbow braces and used after surgical operations of the elbow. But, instead of totally limiting movements, they allow limited flexion and extension movements. They permit controlled movements without damaging the muscles and tendons.
Elbow braces are very useful in preventing, rehabilitating and healing of elbow injuries. Aside from this guide on how to choose an elbow brace, it is good to consult your doctor or therapist. They can surely tell you which elbow brace is best suited for your condition and needs.