Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves in Races?

We all love watching athletes sprint towards the finish line, right? Whether we know them personally or are watching the Olympic Games on TV.  The adrenaline, the cheers and total excitement surrounding marathoners as they finish their 26 mile journey is palpable.

But, what I find even more intriguing is how they still have the energy to stand and hug their loved ones and fellow competitors.  

If you’re keen enough, you have likely seen most of these distance runners wear arm sleeves. These are very important running accessories that help prevent injuries, among other things.

Maybe you’re looking to increase your daily runs and train for a long-distance race, or marathon. If so, you should be asking yourself, “why do runners wear arm sleeves?” And perhaps consider getting one for yourself.

If you ask different runners why they wear arm sleeves (also known as compression sleeves), they will probably give you various reasons. Many wear an arm sleeve as a safety measure, while others may wear it to help recover from an injury.  

Some just use them as “swag.”

According to experts, compression clothing helps in endurance performance… but there are also other legit reasons for wearing arm sleeves that we will take into consideration in this article.

Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves in Races?

In a nutshell, runners wear arm sleeves for:

  • Endurance performance
  • Good circulation of blood to boost recovery time from injuries
  • Reduction of muscle vibrations and tears
  • To help reduce or prevent arm injuries from a fall
  • To protect their arms from harsh sunlight while running

Arm sleeves made with high-quality material will allow for breathability and absorb sweat. There are also arm sleeves made using Acteev Technology that destroy fungi and bacteria that cause an unpleasant sweat odor.

As a bonus, you can never go wrong with wearing compression sleeves on winter days. They are easier to regulate your muscle temperature than a long sleeve shirt. And if you start to feel warm during your run, you can remove your arm sleeves to let in some fresh air.

Arm sleeves can also be used to make a fashion statement. When you wear something stylish and comfortable, you enhance your confidence, which may also help boost your overall performance during the race.

5 Benefits of Wearing Arm Sleeves While Running and How They Work

Arms sleeves are being used more and more by all types of athletes, not just distance runners.  They are gaining momentum in sports such as football and basketball, among others. Why is that?

Well, here are a few reasons:  

1. Enhanced Blood Circulation

This is one of the most important benefits of using arm sleeves. Athletes find themselves nursing arm injuries. These injuries can lead to poor circulation of blood in the affected parts.

Compression sleeves help boost blood flow in the arm, which aids in quick recovery. Quick recovery will help you be back in the game sooner. So you need to do everything you can for a fast recovery.

2. Reduced Muscle Vibration and Injuries

Muscles vibrate because of the impact of coming into contact with the ground when running. These vibrations can lead to muscle twitching or tears in your arms.

Muscle vibrations can also lead to fatigue while running. When you use arm sleeves, it holds the arm muscles tightly, restricting any vibrations. This helps you endure more hardship without tiring easily.

They are excellent for preventing muscle injuries and also help damaged tissues in the arm to recover.

3. Reduction of Muscle Soreness and Inflammation

Arm sleeves apply gentle pressure on the arm muscles. Therefore, the tightness and firmness around the arms help reduce soreness since there is less muscle movement.

Any stress put in any part of the body leads to soreness. Soreness can cause pain, inflammation, or a tight feeling in your arms. 

4. Protection against Arm Injuries after a fall

Falls are common in races. The best thing to do is to prevent falls from causing injuries. An arm sleeve can help reduce damage to your skin, even if it’s only cuts and scratches.

If you already have wounds from previous injuries, arm sleeves are great for keeping the sun, bugs, and sweat away. Also, some arm sleeves have antibacterial properties that help to prevent the growth and spread of bacteria on any injury.

5. Provide Great Protection from the Sun

Quality UV arm sleeves help protect against the scorching sun, which can cause itching or damage to your skin.

Also, if you have a tattoo, you may want to prevent it from the scorching sun that may cause it to fade. Arm sleeves are excellent garments for hiding arm tattoos.

Our Top 3 Arm Sleeves For Runners

Choosing the right arm sleeve means enjoying all the benefits they can provide. We have selected the best arm sleeves you can choose from:

1. Compression Unisex Compression Arm Sleeves

Check Price on Amazon!

Compression Unisex Compression Arm Sleeves have a UV protector with a fabric that provides your skin with the cool it needs for sunny days. They are great when going hill running for muscle support and avoiding injuries.

Available for both men and women. These fantastic runner sleeves also act as warmers during chilly weather.


  • Different colors to reflect your personality
  • Full arm compression


  • Incorrect sizes

2. Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves

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Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves have an excellent fabric for regulating temperature. They provide great comfort and have a light compression with a good fit. In addition, these great arm sleeves come with a UV protector that protects against the sun.


  • Great for injury prevention and muscle recovery
  • Variety colors to choose from


  • A bit expensive

3. Cooling Arm Sleeves for Men & Women

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Excellent for blocking UV rays from damaging your skinCooling Arm Sleeves provide maximum comfort while still enhancing muscle recovery and blood circulation.


  • Very affordable
  • Great for tattoo cover-up


  • One size fits all

When Running Sleeves May Not Work For You

Even with all the benefits that come with using running sleeves, sometimes they may not be suitable for your health.

Here are situations in which you should not wear arm sleeves when running:

If You Experience Numbness in Your Arm

It’s common for athletes to feel the pins and needles sensation or numbness in their arms while or after running. When you wear an arm sleeve and experience this feeling, but it goes away sooner, there’s no need to worry.

But if the feeling persists, stop wearing the arm sleeve, or try a new one. The compression garment may interfere with blood flow if it’s too tight, leading to the feeling.

If You Notice Swelling in Your Arms

If the pressure provided by the runner’s sleeve is not correct, your arms may start to swell. Wearing an arm sleeve that is tight-fitting on the wrist may cause swelling on the dorsal part of the hand (back of the palm).

Also, some people’s skin may have a skin reaction due to tight clothing or materials used, leading to itchiness or swelling.

If You Experience Pain or Existing Pain Gets Worse

When you wear a runner’s sleeve and experience pain or existing pain gets worse, it’s time to ditch the sleeves.

You should always wear an arm sleeve that is not too tight or too loose. If it’s tight, it may cause pain due to restriction of blood flow, and if loose, it means it’s not working effectively.

If You Have an Open Wound

If you have an open wound on your arm, pressing it with a sleeve is the last thing you want. This can worsen the injury or even introduce bacteria if the sleeve is not clean enough. For this reason, an arm sleeve will not work for you.

Final Thoughts on Why Runners Wear Arm Sleeves in Races

Running sleeves are worn by many runners for health and safety reasons, above enhancing performance. By using them to prevent or heal from injury, you’ll eventually get the boost in performance you seek… and get back to where you were before.

For those sweaty moments, arms sleeves have the absorption properties needed and help you stay fresh along the way.

Running sleeves can also be worn instead of lightweight, long sleeve shirts when the weather allows, as they are suitable for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays.

If you’re just starting out, never fear. Once you get your gear in order, check out our article on the pain-free guide on how to start running to master your new hobby in the most fun and productive way! And before long, I bet we’ll be seeing you at the finish line!

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