Basketball has been around since 1891, when Dr. James Naismith invented the game for a group of young athletes during the winter months. Even with the incredible advances in modern medicine and technology, over a century later there is no way for athletes to avoid pain and injuries. Often, basketball players wear arm sleeves to help reduce the risk of injury or aid in recovery process. The players are not wrong in doing so; there are many benefits to wearing a basketball arm sleeve that make it a crucial part of an athlete's game.
In order to know which type of arm sleeve is most beneficial, the injury should be properly diagnosed by a licensed physician and never assumed. There is a variety of possible injuries that can plague a basketball player, all the symptoms, of which, can be cured or reduced with the aid of an arm sleeve.
Types of Common Elbow Injuries
- Elbow Bursitis: This occurs when the bursa (a fluid filled sac that reduces friction and irritation by acting as a cushion) becomes inflamed and irritated. The bursa is situated between the skin, bones, muscles, and tendons. Bursitis is caused by consistent use of a joint, or by falling on the joint with great force.
- Elbow Tendinitis: Sometimes, tendinitis is referred to as Tennis Elbow, but of course that does not restrict tendinitis to occurring only in people who play tennis. Tendinitis in a basketball player can be caused by continual dribbling of the ball, passing the ball to another player, or shooting the ball into the hoop. All of these actions involve the tendons (tissue that connects the muscles to the bones) being in a repetitive motion. This can cause the tendons to become overused, which can lead to minor tears in the tendons. Swelling and pain are the main symptoms of tendinitis. There are two types of tendinitis that occur in the elbow: lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis. Lateral epicondylitis is the medical term for Tennis Elbow and is when the pain and swelling is on the outer part of the elbow joint. Medial epicondylitis is the medical term for Golfer’s Elbow (less commonly used name alternative to Tennis Elbow) and is when the pain and swelling occurs on the inner part of the elbow joint.
- Dislocation of the Elbow: Dislocating the elbow takes a large amount of force and is an unfortunate normality in contact sports, such as basketball. It is usually known immediately upon impact if a player has dislocated their elbow. Besides intense pain, signs of a dislocated elbow include: a cracking sensation in the elbow, immediate swelling, unable to move the elbow and hand, numbness in fingers and hand, or the arm/elbow is noticeably out of shape. A dislocated elbow is classified as a third degree ligament sprain, which is defined at the rupture of one or more ligaments in the elbow. Dislocations are a serious issue because if it can jeopardize the nerves and blood vessels, due to the bone being out of place.
- Elbow Sprain: An elbow sprain occurs when at least one ligament has been torn or pulled. Ligaments connect the bones together and to form the joints. This can happen while falling to the ground, twisting it, or being hit hard on the elbow by someone or the ball. Sprains cause pain whenever the elbow (or other part of body is sprained) are moved with limited mobility. Other symptoms include a warm sensation, bruising, swelling, and redness.
Elbow Injuries-Topic Overview Video
Benefits of a Basketball Arm Sleeve
- Improves Blood Flow: A basketball arm sleeve is designed to be able to cause enough pressure to make the blood vessels open. This helps more oxygenated blood go to the affected muscle or muscles which will reduce the soreness associated with the injury. An added bonus is that this will also reduce your heart rate. This is ideal for dislocations and sprains.
- Reduces Swelling: With the compression of the arm sleeve allowing for better circulation, it also pulls away any fluid buildup around the injured muscle or joint. By reducing the fluid in the affected area, the amount of swelling being experienced will lessen or even go away altogether. Swelling is not good for any type of injury and it is important that it is addressed as soon as possible.
- Prevents Muscles from Tightening: Compression arm sleeves help keep the muscles warm which helps keep the muscles relaxed. This helps reduce the risk of a pulled/torn muscle or tendon.
- Keeps You Cool and Dry: Some compression arm sleeves are made with a material that wicks moisture away. This is a great bonus because it keeps the area warm and comfortable. The heat can also aid in reducing swelling.
- Stabilizes Joint and Muscles: The firmness of the arm sleeve can keep any muscles and joints that are susceptible to being overused. This can help reduce the risk of elbow tendinitis.
- Protects from Cuts and Scrapes: With an extra layer of protection, there is no worrying about reopening a previous abrasion. This will reduce the risk of an infection and keep the player’s mind in the game and not on a cut.
- Can Help Improve Form: Wearing a basketball arm sleeve can help keep the elbow straight while shooting. Due to the compression of the sleeve, it is providing a lot of support and can correct form. This will help increase shots made.
- Great for Preventing Injuries in the First Place and Speeding Up Recovery Time: Many injuries can be prevented or at least be less severe with the aid of an arm sleeve. This is due to a combination of many of the other benefits, such as improving form, stabilizing the joint and muscles, and keeping swelling down.
Depending on the type of injury and the severity of it, one of the best benefits of a basketball arm sleeve is that it can speed up the projected recovery time. When swelling is kept to a minimum, the blood is being circulated well, and the damaged muscles are receiving enough oxygen, there’s a great chance for an injury to heal much faster than anticipated.