You may have noticed an increasing number of athletes lately wearing running arm sleeves.
Most of us are already familiar with leg sleeves – usually known as compression sleeves – which can help reduce your risk of injury and boost your performance.
So what’s the purpose of sleeves worn on the arms?
Well, there are actually a few different reasons that people wear arm sleeves for running and in this guide, we are going to take a closer look at why they’re so popular.
First, we’ve outlined the reasons for wearing them and the main features to look for when buying them.
Then, we’ve listed our favorite 8 running arm sleeves on the market and the reasons we love them.
Let’s get started!
The 8 Best Running Arm Sleeves in 2023
Why Wear Running Arm Sleeves?
Some athletes choose to wear arm sleeves simply because they look good!
Some brands offer lots of different cool colors and designs (especially Bucwild, whose unique sleeves we’ve included below!), so it’s easy to match a pair to your running vest for a cool look on race day!
Other reasons to wear them include:
The main reason to wear arm (or leg) sleeves is to apply pressure to that particular part of the body.
This increase in pressure helps boost circulation, which can prevent inflammation and reduce swelling.
This means a faster recovery time between runs.
Not all arm sleeves for running are compression sleeves, however, and some are simply not tight enough to be useful in this way.
If you need it to help heal an injury or speed your recovery, be sure to look for a true compression sleeve that has been designed for this purpose.
Have you ever wrapped up for a run on a cold day, only to find yourself sweating buckets after your first mile?
Sleeves can be a handy alternative, as they keep your muscles warm initially and are easy to push down or remove as you heat up.
If you are looking for sleeves for a winter run, be sure to pick a pair thick enough to supply the warmth you need.
Conversely, some runners like to wear lightweight sleeves on warmer days, as they can help wick away sweat and keep you cool.
In this case, make sure you choose a pair made from a thin and breathable fabric that won’t retain the heat.
Many arm sleeves claim to offer sun protection, but if you regularly run in very hot conditions look for a pair rated to block harmful UVA and UVB rays.
A rating of UPF 50+ is ideal, as this will block more than 98% of these rays.
Protection on the Trail
Arm sleeves can be very useful for trail runners as they provide a handy layer of protection between your skin and tree branches or bushes.
Check that the sleeves you buy are resistant to abrasion and durable enough to withstand the rigors of off-road running.
The X Best Running Arm Sleeves
Fabric: 84% polyester and 16% spandex, Sizes: Small/Medium, Large/X-Large
|Sweat-wicking||Compression is too light for some|
Made with properties to reduce odor and NB Dry technology to wick away moisture, these running arm sleeves will keep you feeling fresh from start to finish.
All colorways include the New Balance logo, which is reflective to help with visibility when running at night.
The 360-degree stretch fabric gives the sleeves a real ‘second skin’ feel, so you can almost forget you’re wearing them whilst you train.
They are easy to pull on and off, and they’re very durable, retaining their stretch both after use and after being washed.
But don’t expect these to keep you warm – they are pretty thin and not ideal for use in very cold weather.
Fabric: 85% polyester and 15% spandex, Sizes: Small/Medium, Large/X-Large
|Non-chafing fabric||Not ideal for very small arms|
|Hold their shape|
|Easy to wash|
If you’ve been frustrated in the past by running arm sleeves that slide down as you train, you’ll love this pair from Nike.
They feature a band to hold them firmly in place as you run, but it’s stretchy and not too tight, so it remains comfortable.
They have a stylish look – featuring the distinctive swoosh logo—and they are resistant to abrasion, protecting you from twigs and branches as you run.
The fabric feels smooth against your skin and wicks away perspiration effectively, so you’ll stay cool even when the temperatures rise.
You also get UVA/UVB protection in the areas the sleeves cover, keeping you safe on summer runs.
Fabric: 10% spandex and 90% nylon, Sizes: One size
|Seamless design||Upper band is tight|
|Wide range of colors||May slide down on smaller arms|
Offering the best value for money in our guide, these moisture-wicking running arm sleeves from SportsTrail are lightweight and breathable.
Designed to keep you cool in warmer weather, they offer UPF 50+ protection, blocking more than 98% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Because there are no stitches, they feel very smooth against your skin, and the production process is chemical-free, meaning they are completely safe to use.
These are not compression sleeves, so they won’t be suitable if you’re looking for something to support your circulation, but for cooling protection on summer runs, they’re ideal!
Fabric: Nylon and spandex, Sizes: X-small, small, medium, large
|Targeted compression||Not as durable as others|
|Non-irritating||Too warm in hot weather|
If you need running arm sleeves that will improve your blood circulation and relieve the pain and swelling associated with an injury, try these affordable sleeves from the German company Sparthos.
They manage to strike just the right balance between delivering targeted, effective compression and comfort, so you won’t feel restricted as you run.
The fabric is strong enough to protect you from scratches, and it stays in place throughout your run, without rolling down.
It’s also pretty thick, which is great for keeping you warm on colder days, but may cause you to overheat in hot weather.
Fabric: 80% polyester, 20% spandex, Sizes: Range of youth and adult sizes
|No-slip silicone bands||Too warm for humid conditions|
|Effective compression||Sizes run small|
|100% satisfaction guarantee|
It’s easy to find a look you love with the Bucwild sleeves, the range including everything from the USA flag to Hulk Green Camo!
But these running arm sleeves don’t just look good, they feel amazing, too.
Specifically designed for athletes, they deliver true compression to improve circulation, reducing your recovery time after a strenuous run.
They offer fantastic sun protection, too, the breathable fabric is certified to have a UPF rating of 50+ – the highest possible for sun-protective clothing.
Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% spandex, Sizes: X-small, small, medium, large, X-large
|Moisture-wicking||Size down for better compression|
|50+ UV protection||Too long for petite users|
|Option to order a single sleeve|
These are relatively thick arm sleeves for running that are great for keeping you warm on colder days.
They offer light compression, but if you’re looking for better muscle support or relief from pain and swelling, you’ll probably find a smaller size more beneficial.
Lightweight and comfortable, they have a nonslip grip so they won’t roll down, whilst the 4-way stretch fabric ensures your movements are completely unrestricted.
Durable – and with enough abrasion resistance to protect you from minor scrapes – these affordable sleeves come in four different colors.
Fabric: 73% nylon and 27% lycra, Sizes: Range from small to 5X-large
|Medical grade compression||Not very breathable|
|Dries quickly||Stitching leaves impressions on the skin|
|30+ SPF UV sun protection|
A poor fit is one of the biggest problems with arm sleeves, usually because they are only available in a very limited number of sizes.
That’s not the case with this sleeve from B-Driven, which has eight size options to ensure a perfect fit.
It’s ideal if you need a sleeve to optimize blood flow and reduce swelling, as it offers 20-30mmHG graduated medical-grade compression from wrist to bicep.
The densely woven fabric is durable and lightweight enough to feel comfortable, although we found it pretty stifling when running on a hot day.
This sleeve is sold singly (which some may prefer if dealing with a specific medical condition) but is also available in pairs.
Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% spandex, Sizes: Small/medium, large/X-large
|Ultralightweight||Don’t provide much warmth on cold days|
|Seamless to prevent chafing|
Our award for the very best running arm sleeves simply has to go to Zensah, who created these specifically for athletes.
They are just so comfortable to wear, with the soft, breathable fabric wicking away moisture when the temperatures rise and ensuring that you keep your cool!
The unique fabric offers light compression to aid recovery but also helps regulate heat and odor, ticking all the boxes when it comes to the demands of running.
These sleeves feel just like a second skin, conforming well to the shape of our arms, and we found the cuff added to the secure feel without being tight.
Available in 8 colors, they also offer the maximum 50+ UV protection from the sun, thanks to the silver ions in the fabric.
The Best Arm Sleeves for Running: Key Takeaways
Arm sleeves can be great accessories for runners, whether they’re used for compression, protection from the elements, or simply to look good when clocking up the miles!
We hope this guide has been helpful in choosing a pair that meets your needs and keeps you comfortable on your next run.