When injury, pain and weakness put a pause on your fitness routine, don’t fret! All you may need a little extra support. Compression sleeves, braces and wraps can be helpful additions in the gym, on the tennis court, while running, golfing or even taking a yoga class.
Compression sleeves can help promote circulation and relieve inflammation; braces give support and stability; and, wraps help with grip and joint weakness. These stabilizing products can reduce pain and lighten the load on your joints, giving you the confidence to make it through a workout.
Benefits of Supports and Braces
Knees are especially susceptible to injury, arthritis and pain. Using a stabilizer for knees can help eliminate pressure and reduce pain while providing support. Stabilizers can also help increase range of motion
Ankle supports are designed to help treat some common foot issues with athletes, such as Achilles bursitis, Achilles tendon strains and plantar flexion. Using ankle stabilizers provides compression and support and promotes muscular stabilization.
Back problems are a common workout complaint. The core supports the whole body, not just our backs. Wearing a back support while exercising keeps the spine straight and abdominal muscles tucked in. Using a back support can help to strengthen the back by forcing muscles into alignment.
If you suffer from elbow pain (e.g., tennis or golf elbow) wearing an elbow support will target the compression to ease discomfort and promote a faster recovery. It compresses above and below the elbow, which encourages blood flow and assists in removing lactic acid.
Using a wrist support while exercising keeps the wrists stabilized and also helps with recovery from sprains and strains. It can give support to the wrist joint and limit range of motion to help in speeding up recovery as well as preventing another injury.
How to Wear Supports and Braces
A compression sleeve should feel tight, not flimsy, and it shouldn’t bunch up or wrinkle. Always put your compression sleeve on well before beginning your workout. As your body begins to sweat, the sleeve will be more difficult to put on. If you have trouble getting the compression sleeve on, baby powder or cornstarch can help the sleeve slide more easily.
After putting on a brace, test the fit by sliding two fingers under the strap. If two fingers can’t fit comfortably under the strap, it’s too tight. Loosen the strap slightly and repeat the test. If a third finger can fit under the strap, it may be too loose. Tighten the strap slightly and repeat the test until you have a comfortable fit.
Unlike a compression sleeve, a wrap does require a warm-up before use. Wraps are usually worn to support your joints – typically wrists and knees – so proper placement is important. Make sure to tie a wrap so that it covers the joint enough to create support and prevent excessive extension of the joint.
Keeping Your Braces and Supports Clean
When not active, take the brace off to allow your skin and the brace to dry out. To clean most products, use mild soap and cold water, then air dry. Another cleaning option to help control odor is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
Athletic supports that get heavy use can be sprayed lightly with disinfectant and air dried. Avoid keeping supports in your gym bag without air ventilation. Before storing, make sure they’re clean and dry.