Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves? An Easy Guide for Beginners

For most runners, nothing beats a perfect gear kit with essentials such as a pair of comfy running sneakers, a running jacket, quality compression shorts, and a well-fitting running top. 

Compression arm sleeves are another must-have for experienced and new runners hoping to smash their running goals. Some people think they wear these pieces made from stretch fabric to look chic. But they’re way off base.

Why do runners wear arm sleeves?

Runners wear arm sleeves to enjoy the main benefits of compression clothing, such as improved blood circulation, quick muscle recovery, significant support, UV protection, and better running performance. 

This guide elaborates on the main points that nudge runners to wear arm sleeves.

If you want to get the most out of compression arm sleeves, we’ll also point you to the most important things to look out for when buying yours and guide you through wearing them. 

Reasons Runners Wear Arm Sleeves 

Check out the top reasons runners wear arm sleeves when running short and longer runs, including  marathons. 

To Enhance Their Endurance

According to research, compression clothing boosts runners’ endurance by improving their running economy. Consequently, it enhances their running performance to allow them to run faster and complete longer runs within the least time possible. 

Compression sleeves also increase an individual’s ability to run for extended periods by reducing swelling and inflammation of their arm muscles, which is a prevalent issue among runners. They can cover more miles without stopping or getting tired with minimal pain.  

Additionally, wearing arm sleeves tightens  and supports a runner’s arm muscles, minimizing vibrations that could cause muscle twitching and discourage them from completing their long run.  

To Facilitate Post-Run Recovery

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be brutal. It causes intense muscle cramps and fatigue, making it difficult to perform daily chores and even run for a while. 

Therefore, many passionate runners wear compression arm sleeves to save themselves from the agony associated with DOMS. The compression garments improve blood circulation to aid muscle recovery, which is a critical part of a runner’s experience.  

To Regulate Body Temperature

Runners are often affected by climatic conditions. While running in hot weather slows them down, doing it in extremely cold weather is super uncomfortable. 

Thankfully, wearing compression arm sleeves helps to regulate their body temperature, depending on the weather.

For instance, these compression garments are excellent arm warmers, keeping them cozy during cold weather. In a hot environment, running sleeves prevent overheating thanks to their effective cooling technology. 

To Maximize Comfort 

Another reason runners like wearing arm sleeves is comfort, especially during longer runs. 

So typically, compression clothing is made from moisture-wicking fabric. It wicks sweat away from their skin while they run, meaning they don’t have to worry about getting too sweaty in public. 

To Stay Safe

Wearing arm sleeves during a run can keep runners safe in various ways. For starters, it protects them from cuts and bruises if they’re running on a trail. They also don’t have to worry about grazing the skin on their arms if they  fall. 

Besides, runners wear arm sleeves for sun protection when running in hot weather. This prevents them from dealing with the harmful effects of too much exposure to UV rays, including sunburn, wrinkles, and premature skin aging. 

That’s not all. 

Brightly colored athletic arm sleeves make runners easier to stop, even from a distance. This enables motorists to see and avoid hitting them, especially when they’re  running at dawn or dusk. 

Runners worried about encountering bugs such as mosquitos during their runs should also wear arm sleeves. They protect them by preventing mosquito bites, which often cause nasty bumps. 

Choosing Running Arm Sleeves: What to Look Out For 

Planning to buy compression arm sleeves? Now that you know all the benefits they bring to the table, you’re making a wise decision.

But bear in mind that the market is jampacked with countless brands offering compression arm sleeves with many distinct features. This begs the need to be cautious and thorough when choosing your pair. 

You can land the best running sleeves for you by watching out for these important features: 


Fabric is a vital aspect to consider when choosing arm sleeves. You want a breathable material that is also stretchy and friendly to your skin. 

Arm sleeves should also be made from a moisture-wicking fabric so that your sweat doesn’t soak through during longer runs. 


Some runners assume arm sleeves come in the same size because they are manufactured with stretch fabric. But that’s not the case. 

Brands that make arm sleeves offer various sizes for different runners. 

It’s up to you to check the size charts provided by the company to know if your fit is available. 

Speaking of fit, arm sleeves should have just the right amount of compression to feel snug. This means they shouldn’t be too tight to make you uncomfortable or so loose that they slide down every few minutes. 

If you don’t know your forearm sleeves’ size, measure your wrist circumference and the length from the wrist to your elbow pit. 

Runners looking for full-arm sleeves should measure their wrist circumference and length to the triceps muscle. 


Contrary to popular belief, color is also worth factoring in when buying a pair of arm sleeves. 

Although white gets dirty quickly, it’s an excellent option for first-time runners hoping to take their style up a notch by matching their compression clothing with their other running gear. 

Dark-colored arm sleeves are easy to maintain since they are stain-resistant. Options like navy blue and black are perfect to wear when the sun is scorching hot—they block way more UV rays than colors like pastels and white. 

Choose bright-colored arm sleeves if you want to be more visible during your run to avoid traffic collisions. 


Arm sleeves are only effective for runners if they boast high quality.  But then, how can you distinguish a low-quality compression sleeve from one with excellent quality? 

Start by confirming that it has compression technology, which allows it to squeeze your arm muscles to increase blood flow.

 Quality running arm sleeves also have great UV protection properties to enable you to run safely when the sun is hot. 

Look at your pair of running arm sleeves’ label to know whether it’s designed to provide sun protection.  

Wearing Compression Arm Sleeves 

Besides “why do runners wear arm sleeves?”, “how to wear running arm sleeves?” is another popular question among short and long-distance runners. 

So, here’s how you should wear a long arm sleeve: 

  • Fold the arm sleeve in half 
  • Slide the arm sleeve on your arm, pulling it up to your elbow 
  • Pull the folded part of the arm sleeve up your upper arm until it’s below the lower part of your armpit

When you wear your arm sleeve correctly, it should appear as smooth as possible, without any wrinkles or creases. 

Signs You Should Remove Arm Sleeves 

Runners wearing arm sleeves enjoy many benefits, but they’re not always a good choice. 

You should avoid wearing an arm sleeve if:

  • You have an open injury. The arm sleeve will aid the reproduction of bacteria to cause even more damage. 
  • Your skin swells or itches when you wear compression garments. While an arm sleeve can reduce swelling in some runners, it promotes it in others with sensitive skin. Should you notice that your arms swell or become itchy shortly after you wear arm sleeves, run without them. 
  • Your arms are numb. Wearing extremely tight compression clothing for too long minimizes blood circulation to cause numbness. If you experience the latter, remove the arm sleeves immediately. 

Wear Arm Sleeves for a Better Running Performance 

The answer to the “why do runners wear arm sleeves?” question is clear—the compression arm sleeves increase blood flow to increase running performance and minimize the effects of DOMS. 

In addition, they provide much-needed UV protection and enhance runners’ safety.

But note that one can only enjoy the main benefits of wearing arm sleeves if they pick the right pair. Ideally, it should have a quality, breathable, stretchy, quick-drying fabric, fit well, and boast a good shade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will compression arm sleeves help me run faster?

Compression arm sleeves increase blood flow to your muscles to ensure they receive enough oxygen, ultimately boosting your running speed. 

Can compression arm sleeves hurt runners? 

Wearing compression sleeves for a few hours during and after your run is recommended to improve your running performance and promote recovery. However, if they are too tight, they can cause nerve problems and discomfort when worn for extended periods. 

Which are the best arm sleeves for runners?

The best arm sleeves for a runner are comfortable and fit so snugly to your arms that they feel like an extra layer of skin. Ideally, they should be made from a moisture-wicking fabric combined with SPF protection technologies to keep you safe from UV rays. 

How long should I wear compression sleeves after a run? 

You can wear compression sleeves up to twelve hours after a running session to enhance your recovery and help you prepare for your next run.

Should I wear arm sleeves under my long sleeve shirts? 

Most runners wear compression arm sleeves under short-sleeve shirts. Still, you can slide them beneath your long sleeve shirts to enjoy their warming and cooling benefits.