Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves?

Different runners wear different gear when running; some runners wear tights, some wear long shorts, and some wear short shorts, and the same applies to running tops and vests. When people are looking at runners in a race, they will often ask the question, why do runners wear arm sleeves? First, I will explain what an arm sleeve is.

What Is An Arm Sleeve?

An arm sleeve is designed to provide compression, or snug pressure, to the arm. The compression helps improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and support injured or weak muscles. Compression arm sleeves are often used by athletes, people with medical conditions affecting the arm, and people recovering from surgery or injury. They may be made of specialized materials such as spandex or nylon and are available in different compression levels, depending on the individual’s needs.

Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves?

Runners wear arm sleeves for various reasons, including the following

  • compression – lots of runners wear these for the compression they offer. These sleeves help improve blood circulation in our arms, help reduce muscle fatigue, and promote quicker recovery after exercise.
  • Keep arms warm – some runners wear these sleeves in the winter to help keep their arms warm.
  • Sun protection – runners wear these sleeves to protect their arms from the sun.
  • Prevent injury – these sleeves help prevent arm injuries and support recovery from previous injuries. In addition, the compression applied by the sleeves on the veins increases the velocity of the deoxygenated blood flowing to the heart, allowing you to heal faster and recover quicker.
  • Reduce muscle soreness – helps reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Most runners do strength training and running using their arms. Wearing arm sleeves will help reduce tiredness. The compression arm sleeves enhance the blood circulation in the arms, transporting fresh oxygen to the sore muscles and reducing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  • lactic acid – sleeves are meant to reduce the build-up of lactic acid.
  • Helps keep arms cool – some arm sleeves are moisture-wicking, so they help to keep arms cooler when running.
  • Fashion statement – some runners wear these as fashion accessories.

We have all seen Eliud Kipchoge wearing these sleeves when breaking the world marathon record last September. If Eliud Kipchoge wears these when breaking world records, lots of runners think by wearing these that, they will get faster. Mo Farah is another top athlete that we have seen wearing these compression sleeves.

How To Choose An Arm Sleeve?

There are a few things that we need to look at when choosing an arm sleeve

  • Size – it is essential to buy arm sleeves in the correct size; we should always check size charts when buying arm sleeves. Some arm sleeves are made one size only; ideally, we need to buy sleeves that are gender specific as men’s arms are generally a lot bigger than women’s arms.
  • Fit – fit is essential when it comes to arm sleeves. If they are too loose, there is no point wearing them; if they are too tight, they may cause more problems than benefits. In addition, we should check the online reviews of the arm sleeves as people will always comment on whether they are a good fit.
  • Compression – some arm sleeves are not made from elasticated material, so they do not offer any compression benefits, which is one of the main reasons people wear compression sleeves.
  • Uv protection – likewise, some arm sleeves are not made from material that offers any UV protection. When wearing arm sleeves, most runners will not use sun protection cream, but if it’s a hot sunny day, you may need to.
  • Color – Choose the color wisely as black is the worst color to wear in the heat, and white will get old looking very fast, maybe choose a color that will match your running clothes
  • material – the type of material that the compression sleeves are made from is essential as well, they should be made from moisture-wicking fabric helping to keep us cool, by buying sleeves made from moisture-wicking material it will help wick away any moisture whether it is from sweat or rain. Make sure the material is latex free and hypoallergenic to prevent skin irritation.

My Recommendation

Various manufacturers provide arm sleeves, but I recommend the Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves. These are unisex arm sleeves. They are available in 6 colors and come in the below sizes.

Unisex                        Bicep Circumference

S/M                            9.5″ – 13.5″

L/XL                            14″ – 19″

The reviews for these sleeves are excellent.

Final Thoughts

I hope you now know what arm sleeves are and why so many runners wear these arm sleeves. There are various reasons why do runners wear arm sleeves

  • compression
  • keep arms warm
  • fashion
  • prevent injury
  • reduce lactic acid
  • reduce muscle soreness.

I have also discussed what we need to look for when deciding which arm sleeves to buy. Finally, I have also given my recommendation: Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves.



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