7 Reasons Why NBA Players Wear Sleeves While Playing

NBA players wearing sleeves on one or both the arms is kind of quite common now and you must have come across a player who is seen sporting them. But have you wondered what purpose they really serve?

If you folks take deep interest in any kind of basketball, whether it be the NBA or just college basketball, you must, and we say must because yes, it is that common. Have you ever thought about whether it is a mandatory piece of sports gear that works as a magic spell in helping the players win the game? Or is it something that the players prefer wearing because of the benefits it provides them physically? Or just for some style? Today we are going to dig deep into it and get you some answers.

Who started the trend of wearing compression sleeves in the first place?

NBA Players wearing compression sleeves

It is believed that compression sleeves were rocked for the first time in the 2000-2001 NBA season, and it was none other than Allen Iverson who wore them for the first time to a match.

While many of his fans misunderstood it as a fashion statement and hopped onto the sleeve bandwagon in order to just copy his ‘style,’ the actual reason behind Allen Iverson wearing those sleeves was a medical condition known as bursitis. If we try explaining in simpler words, bursitis is an extremely painful medical condition whereby fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones become inflamed and result in a lot of pain. This usually happens in the elbows, shoulders, and the hips. So while Allen Iverson wore compression sleeves on doctors’ recommendation and prescription, little did he know that he had started something that would gain terrific significance in the NBA world.

It is believed that Allen did not stop wearing the sleeves after that, whatever the reason may be. Whether it was to prevent any future risks of bursitis or comfort or just style. Nevertheless, he was extremely successful in projecting an intense impact onto his fans and onto generations of NBA to follow. And that is clearly evident in today’s basketball world.

Needless to say that obviously, not everyone followed Allen’s footsteps because they thought it was a style statement all of a sudden, of course, players all around the league started to get more and more aware of the physical benefits of the sleeves and the sleeves grew popular over time. These benefits have a larger role in raising compression sleeves to new heights of popularity.

Let’s cut to the chase: what benefits can wearing sleeves provide the players?

You heard us hint at some therapeutical and physical benefits of wearing compression sleeves, but what are they really? Let us take a look.

Compression sleeves are quite literally sleeves that you have the option of rolling off whenever you want, lol. There really is no better way to put this. They extend from the wrist up to the bicep. Generally speaking, these benefits range from providing muscle warmth to being a fashion statement, depending on the specific situation and today we are going to look into it further.

  1. The modern injury protection: compression

The first and foremost advantage of wearing compression sleeves while playing basketball is that players can protect themselves from an assortment of minor arm injuries that are a dime a dozen type of aspect when it comes to playing basketball.

Compression is easily characterized as a modern therapy for such injuries for a number of reasons. One of them is that compression gear is made from stretchable moisture-wicking and stretchable material like nylon or spandex that helps to keep your blood flow in check by squeezing the muscles in the arms.  This kind of material also provides 100% functionality as the sleeves become easy to take on and put on. Plus they do not let sweat accumulate on the player’s body and instead keep absorbing it so the player stays comfortable and continues playing.

Basketball is a physically challenging game and can project a lot of strain on the arms, sometimes leading to some minor injuries as well. Compression sleeves can help in maintaining the stability of the arms muscles and safeguard the player against such injuries. Woah, we are exactly as surprised as you are.

When these sleeves squeeze the muscles, blood vessels in the arms are forced to stay open. As a result of this, more blood flows through them and more oxygenated blood can spread throughout the arms. So to say in simpler terms, compression sleeves help in the oxygenation of arm muscles and also not let them get tired as oxygen keeps reaching them at all times.

It must be noted that choosing the right size and kind of compression sleeves can make or break your game. If you get them too tight, then they will be extremely uncomfortable and even painful to some extent. They will hinder your game and just disappoint you instead. And if you get them too loose, then they will just keep falling and rolling off of the arm as you play. So it is really crucial that you choose your size wisely.

Just a lil’ shopping advice, you know.

  1. Protection against injuries that are a must of basketball

Like we all know already, basketball is a game that has a great physical impact on the players. Rashed, bruises, sometimes even broken bones are the abc’s of the basketball world. Yes, very common.

So keeping that, and the fact that NBA seasons can last months before ending in mind, the players have to make sure that their health is in perfect condition so no obstacle is created for them during the season. Similarly, it is mandatory that they take care of their bodies and protect themselves from any major and minor injuries in order to prevent spending the rest of the season on bedrest instead of on the court.

For this purpose, they end up choosing compression gear. Especially the padded version. Compression sleeves of this kind have cushions on the elbows so that the player remains safe from any injuries and can ensure a smooth season. Their counterparts, padded compression shorts or tights also do their part extremely well. Lifesavers, literally.

  1. Pain relief and placebo effect after sustaining an injury

Sometimes it happens that players suffer injuries before the season starts and by the time it does start, they are almost healed. Or that during the season, players may get minor injuries, but their doctors do not see any reason to stop the player from continuing playing. In such cases, players may take the help of compression sleeves.

Compression sleeves blanket the arms, which for one, help in providing comfort, pain relief and additional support and aid the player in recovering as quickly as possible, also making it comfortable enough for the player to continue with his game.

Even if the injury has healed completely and the player is okay to go without the sleeves, they may still prefer to wear them because they comfort the player. This is because the player may not have fully recovered with the mental trauma of sustaining the injury as well. So they feel more comfortable and ‘safe’ with the sleeves on. This ‘placebo effect’ helps the players to maintain a good and smooth play all while feeling safe and protected from any danger whatsoever. Mental and physical protection both. We love these!

  1. Protection against the sun

We all know the harmful effects that prolonged and continuous exposure to ultraviolet rays can channel on the human body, especially the skin. Skin rashes, photoaging, and even skin cancer, etc are just some of the conditions that the players can get subjected to if they do not take care of their skin all the time while playing in the sun.

In addition to this, it is also true that there may be several instances in the NBA when the game has to take place under the open sky while the sun shines with all its glory.

Hence, players may have to choose to wear compression sleeves in order to protect themselves and their skin from such adverse effects caused by prolonged UV exposure. The compression sleeves cover the arms, while compression tights can be worn to do the same for the legs, and the player is ready to go!

  1. To conceal controversial tattoos

If you are a die-hard NBA fan, it must be clear to you that NBA players take their tattoos very seriously. More than half of the whole population of the NBA players have tattoos and some like the famous Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson have evolved into total tattoo icons in the NBA history.

Tattoos are so common and trendy in the NBA world, that they have almost taken the form of a ritual that a lot of players bow down to; and we are certain that as we speak, there is some NBA player getting a brand new tattoo to show off right about now!

Picture this: a player has gotten a new tattoo and has a game coming up. The tattoo has not yet completely healed and it has to be protected from any infections or anything while playing.

For this exact purpose of protecting the tattoo in order to allow it to heal, players make use of compression sleeves so their new tattoos can be covered and protected to ensure easy healing even if they play.

Secondly, sometimes players may get (or may already have) tattoos that may not align with the beliefs or practices of the audience, or even worse, big companies who wish to sponsor the league. The player faces backlash from fans, and loses billions of dollars in sponsorships if something like this happens. Hence, they may prefer to hide such tattoos from the public eye by wearing our bad boys, compression sleeves.

They help in covering such potentially offensive tattoos from both the public and the camera eye and keep the player away from any loss or backlash.

  1. Protection against terrible floor burns

Anyone who has anything to do with basketball or has ever played it knows how common it is to get a floor burn. Players often get knocked out on the floor by opponents and sometimes they have to dive onto the floor themselves during the game, which puts them at a great risk of sustaining a floor burn.

And do not underestimate floor burns. They can range from mild to severely painful and may take days to recover if it is the latter. They cause redness, discoloration, and of course, a lot of pain at the site. Some people may even experience itching or swelling. So yeah, they are pretty bad.

If the players choose to wear compression sleeves while playing, they can protect their arms from such burns amongst other reasons, and can stay away from all this unnecessary pain. The skin on the legs can similarly be protected by compression tights. A solution to every floor burn problem, lol.

  1. Last but not the least, style

Coming in at the bottom is the fashion factor that comes with sporting compression sleeves.

Many renowned NBA players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, just to name a few, prefer to wear compression sleeves because of the extra ‘oomph’ factor that they may add to the otherwise mundane NBA sports gear. Seeing such famous players rock compression sleeves as a fashion statement, a lot of others in the league, as well as players out of the league have also picked up on this trend and it is becoming increasingly popular day by day.

Why do players want to look extra cool, you may ask? Well, this is because each and every player in the National Basketball Association is a separate contract on their own and they have to milk their contract as much as they can during its life. Following hot trends and showcasing a rather cool image of themselves can help them in attracting more and more fans, which ultimately means that they can earn more and more money. It may sound a little far-fetched, however, it is totally true and helpful.

Drawing the curtains

We reach the end of the article now. We are certain that now you are thorough upon the various therapeutic physical, and even mental advantages of wearing compression sleeves, why do NBA players wear them, and who began the trend of wearing them in the first place.

Compression tights are a great way to protect the body from physical injuries during the hands-on and physically toll taking game that basketball is. From regulating blood flow in the arms to helping players stay away from unnecessary backlash by covering potentially controversial tattoos, there is so much that these bad babies have in store to offer. So whether you are a professional basketball player, take interest in any similar sport, or just want to take advantage of the vast field of benefits that compression sleeves boast, you must know that compression sleeves have got your back!