There is no doubt you have seen them on runners and other athletes. Compression arm sleeves, often in bright colors, running from just below their shoulder to their wrist. But why do runners wear arm sleeves? It might surprise you to know that there are more than a few reasons. And below we’ll break down what running arm sleeves are for and what brands we recommend.
- Runners wear arm sleeves for versatile benefits, including lightweight base layer, easy temperature adjustment, and compression support.
- Arm sleeves offer sun protection, help cool you down, and allow for style expression.
- When choosing arm sleeves, consider material quality and elastic durability, as prices can vary widely.
What Are Running Arm Sleeves?
Running arm sleeves are compression sleeves designed to be worn on the arms during running or other physical activities. These sleeves are typically made of stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric and are designed to provide a variety of benefits to athletes and runners. Here are some of the key purposes and advantages of using running arm sleeves:
Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves?
Below are some of the most common reasons why runners wear arm sleeves.
Improved Blood Circulation
Compression from the arm sleeves can enhance blood circulation in the arms. By gently squeezing the blood vessels, it helps facilitate the return of deoxygenated blood to the heart and the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles. This improved circulation can have a few key benefits:
- Enhanced oxygen delivery: Better blood flow means more oxygen is supplied to the muscles, which can improve endurance and performance during exercise.
- Faster removal of metabolic waste: Improved circulation helps carry away waste products like lactic acid, reducing the likelihood of muscle cramps and fatigue.
Reduced Muscle Vibration
When running, the muscles in the arms can vibrate or oscillate slightly due to the repetitive impact and motion. This vibration can lead to muscle fatigue and may even contribute to the risk of muscle strain or injury. Compression sleeves help stabilize the muscles and reduce this vibration, potentially making your arm muscles more efficient and less prone to fatigue.
Lightweight Base Layer
With races and training runs often starting early on cool mornings. Running can be a battle between being cold, then hot, then cold, then hot again. Finding the right layers to keep your body regulated can be hard and arm sleeves are a great way to keep yourself warm until your body warms up.
Easy to Adjust/Remove While Running
As mentioned above, running can be a constant challenge between being hot and cold. Arms sleeves allow you to adjust the level of warmth needed quickly and easily while running. Just pull them down, or up, or take them off as needed.
Sun / UV Protection
We all know how important sun protection is while running. And on sunny days your arms get a lot of sun while out putting in miles. Rather than using copious amounts of suntan lotion every day, most compression arm sleeves provide UV protection from the sun.
They Keep You Cool
In warmer weather, once you start sweating, arms sleeves will actually help cool you down. The sleeves help maintain the level of moisture on your skin, providing an increased cooling effect from your sweat.
That’s right. There is no question that runners love to wear bright colors and match their socks to everything. Arm sleeves are another way for people to show off their personality and stand out from the crowd. You will find that they make sleeves in every color and pattern under the run.
How to Choose Running Arm Sleeves
There are a lot of options when it comes to picking running arm sleeves. And there can be a drastic difference in price depending on the brand you are looking at. Ranging anywhere from $12 for 4 pairs to $30 for one pair. Typically the biggest difference between cheaper and higher end sleeves will be the material thickness and elastic durability over time.
What to Consider When Buying Running Arm Sleeves
Consider Your Goals
Determine your primary objectives for using arm compression sleeves. Are you looking for muscle support, improved circulation, sun protection, or all of the above? Knowing your goals will guide your selection.
Size and Fit
Proper sizing is crucial. Measure the circumference of your arm at the bicep and forearm, and check the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer to find the right size. A snug but not overly tight fit is ideal for compression sleeves.
Compression sleeves come in different compression levels, usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Mild to moderate compression is common for running. You may need a different level if you have a specific medical condition or preference.
- Mild Compression (15-20 mmHg):
- Mild compression sleeves provide gentle pressure to the arms. These are often used for general comfort, minor swelling, and to improve blood circulation during long periods of sitting or standing. They are suitable for runners who want some compression without too much pressure.
- Moderate Compression (20-30 mmHg):
- Moderate compression sleeves offer a firmer level of pressure. They are used for managing mild to moderate swelling, fatigue, and muscle soreness. Some athletes prefer these for improved muscle support and enhanced circulation during workouts.
- Firm Compression (30-40 mmHg):
- Firm compression sleeves provide a higher level of pressure. These are typically used for more serious medical conditions, such as lymphedema or deep vein thrombosis. Athletes with specific needs may also use these for enhanced muscle support and recovery, but they can be quite tight.
- Extra Firm Compression (40-50+ mmHg):
- Extra firm compression sleeves offer the highest level of pressure. They are primarily intended for medical conditions, such as severe lymphedema or chronic venous insufficiency. Athletes rarely use sleeves with this level of compression, as they can be very tight and may require a doctor’s recommendation.
Material and Breathability
Look for sleeves made from moisture-wicking, breathable fabric to keep your arms dry and comfortable during exercise. Materials like spandex or nylon blends are often used for compression sleeves.
If sun protection is one of your goals, choose compression sleeves with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to shield your arms from harmful UV rays.
Design and Aesthetics
Compression sleeves come in various colors and patterns. Choose a design that aligns with your style and preferences.
Opt for sleeves with minimal or no seams to prevent chafing or irritation during extended runs.
Maintenance and Durability
Check care instructions for the sleeves. Some may require special care, such as hand washing, to maintain their compression properties and durability.
Arm compression sleeves come in a wide price range. While it’s essential to find sleeves that meet your needs, consider your budget and balance cost with quality.
Arm sleeves are a versatile accessory that offer a range of benefits to runners. From providing a lightweight base layer to assisting with temperature regulation and compression support, they prove to be invaluable companions during workouts. Additionally, they offer sun protection and cooling effects in warm weather, while also allowing individuals to showcase their personal style. When selecting arm sleeves, it’s important to consider factors such as material quality and elastic durability, as these factors can greatly impact their performance and longevity. So whether you’re looking to stay warm on chilly mornings or make a style statement while running, arm sleeves are a practical and fashionable choice for any runner’s wardrobe.
What are running arm sleeves used for?
Running arm sleeves are used for a variety of purposes, including protecting your arms from the sun, keeping them warm in cooler weather, and providing mild compression and muscle support during runs.
Do running arm sleeves help with sun protection?
Yes, running arm sleeves can provide UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) sun protection, which helps shield your skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
How do I choose the right size for running arm sleeves?
To find the right size, measure the circumference of your upper arm and consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart. It’s important to ensure a snug but not too tight fit to prevent discomfort.
Are running arm sleeves suitable for all weather conditions?
Running arm sleeves are versatile and can be used in various weather conditions. They help keep your arms warm in colder weather and offer moisture-wicking properties to keep you cool in warmer conditions.
Can running arm sleeves improve performance?
While arm sleeves won’t drastically improve your performance, they can offer mild compression and muscle support, which may reduce muscle fatigue and improve circulation during long runs.
Are running arm sleeves machine-washable?
Most running arm sleeves are machine-washable, but it’s essential to check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure their longevity.
Do running arm sleeves stay in place during a run?
Well-designed running arm sleeves typically have non-slip bands or grippers to keep them in place during exercise, reducing the need for constant adjustments.
Do running arm sleeves help with muscle recovery?
While running arm sleeves can aid in muscle support during exercise, their role in muscle recovery is limited. They may help with circulation and reduce post-exercise soreness, but other recovery methods are typically more effective.