What are the elbow/bicep straps so many NFL players are sporting this season?
January 27, 2007 12:30 AM   Subscribe

What are the elbow/bicep straps so many NFL players are sporting this season?

Watching the playoffs this year, I noticed several players wearing narrow straps just above the elbow and below the bicep. Some of them looked like they might simply be sweatbands to help keep their hands dry. But others clearly were not, made of some more rubber-like material. I suspect that these may be a new kind of brace to help control epicondylitis. If so, I'd be interested in finding a vendor to give them a try. Haven't been able to locate a picture, but they are not the standard tennis elbow brace.
posted by Manjusri to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: players started wearing what was essentially a neoprene or rubber sleeve on their elbows when playing on astroturf fields. this is because a fall on astroturf is a really good way to remove a lot of your skin.

you hold a football in the crook of your elbow like so, and having a rubber sleeve there increases your grip on the ball. in today's game, defenders really try hard to force a fumble, so many players who carry the ball a lot (receivers, running backs etc) now wear the sleeves to enhance their grip, even if they're playing on a grass field.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:40 AM on January 27, 2007

I'm not sure, but I want to clarify...

Manjusri: you mean those thin rubber ones, right? If so, I think these aren't large enough to protect anything in the event of a fall. Although, as sergeant sandwich stated, they *would* improve the grip on the ball.
posted by blackbeardrrr at 1:10 AM on January 27, 2007

What he means is that they protect from turf burn, which is definitely worth avoiding.
posted by hooves at 1:51 AM on January 27, 2007

Best answer: AFAIK those narrow straps are to prevent tendinopathy. By taking some of the load off the muscles and tendons near their attachment points they reduce the likelihood of tearing, particularly of the triceps tendon when falling on the hands. Physical therapists give these to the players to prevent lateral and medial epicondylitis and outright rupture injury and keep them in the game with less pain. You can get them fitted for the patellar tendon also.
posted by chudder at 1:57 AM on January 27, 2007

You can get them fitted for the patellar tendon also.

Ah-ha! Finally I know why I've seen people wearing those things? I thought perhaps they were some freaky heart-rate monitor sensor or something!
posted by aramaic at 11:29 AM on January 27, 2007

you will sometimes see highschool aged athletes with the patellar tendon bands as a result of Osgood Slaughters disease.
posted by subtle_squid at 11:50 AM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: Sergeant, the bands in your picture are the ones I was thinking were sweat control devices, but your description makes sense.

Blackbeard and chudder, those are the ones I am referring to. If anyone knows a source more convenient than a PT for buying them, I'd be grateful. I wonder if every PT will be familiar with them, or only those with a sports medicine focus.

I've actually been using the osgood-schlatter patellar tendon bands for several years now for relief from what is probably a combination of chondro-malasia/meniscal damage from overuse. I found that they provide all the benefit of the neoprene sleeves, without the irritation resulting from moving the patella about unnaturally. The osgood-schlatter devices are available at sport stores, but the construction is a little toospecific to the knee, and I've not seen the more general purpose bands for sale anywhere.
posted by Manjusri at 12:32 PM on January 27, 2007

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