A forearm compression sleeve fits snugly around your lower arm and is often worn by athletes during competition and training. This is because some research suggests that wearing a compression forearm sleeve can speed up your muscle recovery and improve your athletic performance.
But do the real-world results line up with the theory?
Let’s find out.
See also: forearm brace │forearm wrap
What is a forearm compression sleeve?
A forearm compression sleeve is a training accessory that fits around your lower arm. Some people wear them as a fashion accessory; others wear them to keep their joints warm during exercise. However, reducing muscle soreness is by far the most common reason for wearing one.
Overall, it’s a relatively simple device. So let’s take a look at each potential benefit in more detail.
Forearm compression sleeve benefits
Using a compression sleeve for forearm pain or sporting performance is a smart idea.  But they’re also some other surprising benefits, too.
Reduced muscle soreness
Ever heard of the RICE theory for recovery?
Well, the C in RICE stands for compression, which is an important part of muscle recovery.  This is because slight compression promotes better blood flow to damaged muscle tissue. This helps it to repair faster so that you can recover sooner and get back in the gym or on the field quicker.
Yet, this increased blood flow also helps your joints to stay lubricated. This lubrication is extra important because tendons and ligaments typically take longer to recover than muscle tissue.
Warm-ups are vital whether you’re working out in a toasty gym or on a cold sporting pitch. Wearing a compression sleeve for wrist and forearm warmth is an excellent idea because, as I alluded to above, it gets the blood flowing into your joints, which in turn helps them to warm up quicker.
You should still do some light stretching and cardio to warm up as well as some specific exercises that are related to your sport or activity. However, a forearm compression sleeve will most certainly help your lower arm muscles and the surrounding joints to feel nicely lubricated.
Better athletic performance
Stiff joints don’t make for good athletic performance. And it’s not like a simple compression forearm sleeve will turn you into a superstar.
But having some support around your forearm (which is a problem area for many people) can make a world of difference. This is especially true in activities where your arms are hanging by your sides and getting subjected to lots of regular movements, such as distance running. 
Also, the simple fact that a forearm compression sleeve boosts your recovery will improve your sporting performance because your muscles can contract harder and for longer when they’re not as sore.
Few people wear their forearm compression sleeves for this benefit. Still, having some clothing with UV protection is never a bad idea if your activity or sport is performed outside.
Just know that not all brands will offer this protection. It depends on the material and the color of the product.
Protects against scratches
While wearing even the best forearm compression sleeve won’t protect against sudden, severe injuries, wearing one will help to minimize simpler scratches and knocks. So rather than walking off the field with loads of small forearm cuts, you’ll be well on your way to faster muscular recovery.
Finding the best forearm compression sleeve for you
We don’t sell forearm compression sleeves, but we do have a lot of experience with fitness products. So check out this buying guide before ordering a new forearm compression sleeve to make sure that you know what to look for.
Check the reviews for any compression forearm sleeve that you’re thinking of buying. Do the materials seem to be hard-wearing? Or are customers complaining about rips and poor manufacturing?
You don’t want a product that’s going to make your arm uncomfortable when you sweat, so make sure that your device has some kind of moisture-wicking capability if you plan on using it for extended periods of time.
Finding a quality forearm compression sleeve that’s also comfortable to wear is crucial if you want to get the muscle recovery benefits.
If it’s too loose, then you won’t get enough compression.
If it’s too tight, then it’ll feel uncomfortable.
But if it’s just right, then you’ll get some nice compression without feeling like your forearm is being constricted by a snake.
Let’s be honest, even the best forearm compression sleeve is going to smell after a few weeks of workouts. So make sure that your device is either machine washable or, at the very least, washable by hand.
This way, you won’t be “that person” in the gym who’s letting off unpleasant odors every two minutes.
Some companies like to hype up their products and make them seem like they’re the best thing since sliced bread. But remember, a forearm compression sleeve is a remarkably simple device, so it’s not like you need to spend much money to get a good one.
If the reviews are positive, the company seems serious, and the price is right, then just go for it. The market is flooded with products that all claim to have some slight advantage over the competition, but the reality is that the supposed benefits are usually just an attempt to make you feel special (so that they can get your business).
Most forearm compression sleeves do the exact same thing: They promote blood flow, and therefore, speed up your recovery slightly.
The verdict on forearm compression sleeves
The forearms are one of the worst areas to experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) because the lower arms are required in our everyday lives.
So unless you want a constant reminder of your lack of recovery, it’s a smart idea to invest in a quality compression forearm sleeve. While it won’t completely remove your muscle soreness, it will reduce the intensity of it in most cases by promoting better blood flow to damaged tissue.
- Engel, F. A., Holmberg, H.-C., & Sperlich, B. (2016). Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing? Sports Medicine, 46(12), 1939–1952. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0546-5
- Kim, J., Kim, J., & Lee, J. (2017). Effect of compression garments on delayed-onset muscle soreness and blood inflammatory markers after eccentric exercise: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 13(5), 541–545. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1735088.554
- Treseler, C., Bixby, W. R., & Nepocatych, S. (2016). The Effect of Compression Stockings on Physiological and Psychological Responses after 5-km Performance in Recreationally Active Females. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(7), 1985–1991. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001291