There are sleeves for the elbows and knees which trap heat and, depending on thickness and elasticity, provide compression. They're typically made of neoprene. Ignoring the aspects of support and stored elastic energy assisting in some movements, is there evidence to support the notion that these would reduce the potential for injury?

Warmer muscles (up to a certain point, I assume) are said to be less prone to injury, and I've also heard a higher heat would lubricate the joints better, presumably because it could affect the viscosity of synovial fluid. After all, we "warm up" before exercise. Is there actual scientific proof that warmer muscles, connective tissue and joints directly benefit from this heat, or is it possibly a case of correlation being mistaken for causation? As in, the heat is merely the effect of the metabolic processes and/or mechanic action taking place in the body and what actually prevents injury is a gradual increase in load and intensity?

Same for compression. Does this actually provide a benefit during exercise other than support and taking over part of the stress on the body tissues?

  • 1
    Compression is there just for support AFAIK. Using ankle braces in soccer is considered bad because it reduces mobility and weakens the ankle making it more likely to sprain once you remove the brace. BTW, second line of your second paragraph "...higher heat would reduce lubricate the joints better..." seems like you forgot to remove that
    – Yousend
    May 13, 2016 at 12:50
  • @akadian Whoops, you're right. Bad proofreading from me. I'll edit.
    – G_H
    May 13, 2016 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


For compression specifically - in my experience, it's often quite the contrary. Wearing compression sleeves, braces and especially belts all the time, leads to certain muscles staying relaxed or more strained in compound exercises when they shouldn't be. Your nervous system learns how to activate (also under-activate and over-activate) muscles based on previous patterns. If it has learned to do that with belts that let your abdominals stay relaxed or compression sleeves that provided additional resistance, it could result in an injury.

I firmly believe (without having medical data to support it but speaking out of personal experience) that "special" aid should be used only in "special" cases - either when you are recovering from an injury and capable physician has suggested that you need that equipment to support you. Or when you are performing work that pushes yourself to the limit and only then you need the extra security.

  • Interesting viewpoints. I'm currently wearing a neoprene elbow sleeve on workouts because of a minor injury but do so specifically for heat. I selected one without too much compression and support. I also never lift with a belt and have only recently started using straps because my grip has become a limiting factor on deadlifts. There's something to be said for lifting raw, especially as long as you can progress without help.
    – G_H
    May 14, 2016 at 19:32

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