6 Best Compression Arm Sleeves for Runners

Compression arm sleeves help runner’s upper bodies not fatigue so you can maintain good running form and running performance. They can also keep you warm and protect you from the sun. I review the 6 best compression arm sleeves for runners. My favorite are the Lululemon Senseknit Running Sleeves which have pockets for storing energy gels and reflective details. Read about the variety of compression arm sleeves for runners below!

Compression arm sleeves aren’t just for elite runners. Compression arm sleeves are for runners, period.

Sure, you see a lot of elite athletes sporting them on race day so they can stay warm in cold weather (without having to slow down to peel a shirt off once their body temperature rises…). But compression arm sleeves hold benefits for runners of all levels and abilities.

Whitney Heins running in compression sleeves
Compression arm sleeves are perfect for fighting fatigue and dealing with confusing race day weather!

Running arm sleeves are perfect for race day when the weather is confusing, and you aren’t sure if a long-sleeved shirt is too much but know a tank is too little. Arm compression sleeves allow you to essentially not have to choose…plus, no messing around with pulling a shirt off, having to throw away a nice piece of clothing, or having your race number covered (so people think you’re a bandit AND you miss out on race photos).

Compression sleeves offer more than just convenient warmth. Running is a full-body sport after all. Therefore, keeping the muscles in your arms warm with good circulation can help your overall running form which can help you perform better and recover faster.

You’ve likely seen other compression gear on runners like compression socks, compressive calf sleeves, or compression leg sleeves. These help your legs from feeling tired. Compression sleeves for arms do the same but for, you guessed it!, your arms! (Honestly, sometimes after a marathon, my arms are more tired than my legs somehow!).

Related: Pro Race Day Running Tips

According to research and users’ experiences, the benefits of compression arm sleeves for runners include:

  • Improved blood circulation to ward off fatigue and improve running form
  • Enhanced muscle recovery
  • UVA and UVB protection
  • Convenient warmth and enhanced temperature regulation
  • No bunching like long-sleeve shirts
  • Keep race bib visible
  • No need to throw away clothing
  • Extra fuel storage

There are a lot of different types of compression arm sleeves out there—some with light compression, some with a lot. Some are long or short; some arm sleeves prevent you from overheating while others keep you warm; and some arm sleeves are moisture-wicking or have SPF protection while others are meant to just peel off and throwaway.

Related: Warmest Running Tights for Women

My experience with arm sleeves

I wore cheap loose-fitting Temu arm sleeves for my CIM marathon and Carmel Marathon. Priced at just a few bucks, I planned to throw them away. I wasn’t interested in compression for my arms. The main reason I wanted sports compression sleeves was to stay warm.

These were perfect for the race day weather which was drizzly and in the upper-30s. These compression running sleeves kept me from hunching over and messing up my gait, hurting my performance. They were no frills and did slide around quite a bit.

best compression arm sleeves for runners
Pin these best compression arm sleeves for runners list for later!

But after mile 2, I easily peeled the arm sleeves off and went on to run the next 24.2 miles as comfortably as a marathoner can run! If I had worn highly compressive sleeves, they would have been a hassle to peel off, wasting precious energy.

When looking for compression arm sleeves for runners, think about the reason why you want them. Do you plan to throw them away? Want them to increase blood flow? Need temperature regulation and SPF protection? 

How I selected these compression arm sleeves for runners

Below I offer the 6 best compression arm sleeves for runners:

To develop this list, I included the compression arm sleeves I have tried plus scoured thousands of reviews and customer ratings for compression arm sleeves. I culled the list down to six to fit runners’ different needs at an affordable price point.

best compression arm sleeves for runners pin
Pin these best compression arm sleeves for runners list for later!

The biggest complaint of any of these arm sleeves was that they didn’t fit well. This can be avoided if you follow the measuring instructions for each sleeve (check under the best fit – measure section). The other complaint was the durability of the sleeves. To guard against snags, tears, or unstitching check the instructions for care of your running compression sleeves. Most require hand wash cold cycle and air dry.

Related: Best Running Gear for Cold Weather

Let’s get to the list, shall we?

6 Best Compression Arm Sleeves for Runners

Best Overall – Lululemon Senseknit Running Sleeves — $14

Perfect for long runs 

If the idea of wearing running sleeves just seems, well, I don’t know, gross or manly to you, then here’s your arm sleeve. The Lululemon Senseknit Running Sleeves are the one of the only ones on this list built JUST for runners. I am also kind of shocked that they are Lululemon and are one of the most inexpensive arm sleeves on the list (marked down from $58).

Lululemon compression arm sleeves
Lululemon compression arm sleeves

These running sleeves are built with Lululemon’s new SenseKnit technology (launched in 2022) which takes all the pros of compression (improved circulation and warmth) and rids the cons—restrictiveness and overheating. They also have pretty reflective details on the back of the arm for visibility if running in the dark. The top of each sleeve even has pockets for storing energy gels which I LOVE!

Related: Best Running Shorts with Pockets

Pros:

  • Most comfortable material that is warm yet breathable and flexible
  • Features upper arm pockets for holding gels!
  • No stink zinc!
  • Thumbholes
  • Full arm coverage
  • Reflective logo and details for night running
  • Seamless no slip grippers keep it in place
  • Second skin feel
  • Stylish look
  • Stay dry fabric blend

Cons:

  • Limited supply so buy fast!
  • One color
  • Two sizes
  • No protection from UVA and UVB rays

Related: How to Store Energy Gels During a Marathon

Best Compression — Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves — $30

Perfect for workouts

Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves
Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves

Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves are the first pair of compression arm sleeves I ever wore! And I still have them. These running arm sleeves check all the boxes of compression sleeves. The innovative Zensah fabric keeps you warm (or cool), and compresses muscles for improved blood flow. They are my go-to arm warmers! They are quite compressive so work wonders in helping combat muscle fatigue.

Pros:

  • Excellent sun protection via silver ions in our innovative fabric provides UPF 50+ UV
  • Thermal regulating to keep arms cool or warm
  • Breathable fabric and moisture-wicking
  • Second-Skin fit that’s light yet not constrictive
  • Anti-odor
  • Durable
  • Seamless fit so no chafing

Cons:

  • Can be hard to peel off
  • Higher compression, so can feel restrictive and itchy
  • Some users complained they weren’t sized well, feeling too tight or too loose
  • Lacks full arm coverage

Most Comfortable — Nike Dry-Fit Sleeves — $24

Perfect for base-building runs

If you are looking for arm sleeves that are comfortable with a second-skin feel and easy to peel off, the Nike Dry-Fit Sleeves are perfect for you. Built with Nike’s popular Dry-Fit fabric, these silky smooth sleeves amazingly stay put and come in an array of colors. These sleeves aren’t compressive, so they are best for thermoregulation and skin protection.

Nike Dry-Fit Sleeves
Nike Dry-Fit Sleeves

They are popular among runners, football players, basketball players, and baseball players, alike. (They also make you look pretty tough if you want to intimidate fellow competitors on race day!).

Pros:

  • Comfortably smooth fit
  • Stays put
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Stay dry fabric blend
  • Slip elastic gripper on each arm
  • breathable
  • Attractive in many different colors
  • Anti-chaffing
  • Odor-resistant
  • Best for summer runs

Cons:

  • Not compressive
  • Not especially warm
  • No sun protection

Related: Best Pocket Bras for Runners

Best Throwaway – Adidas Compression Arm Sleeves — $13

Best throwaway for race day

If you want a compression arm sleeve for race day where you don’t want to worry about quite literally throwing money away if you get warm, I recommend getting the Adidas compression arm sleeves. Unlike the Nike’s these offer gentle compression but the cheap price tag and no-frills design make these compressive sleeves get the job done without breaking the bank.

Adidas Compression Arm Sleeves
Adidas Compression Arm Sleeves

Therefore, if you’re undecided on what to wear on race day, these are your solution. They are breathable and keep you warm but are easy to toss if needed.

Pros:

  • Highly compressive but easy to peel off
  • Multiple colors
  • Breathable fabric that allows for airflow so no overheating
  • Comfortably built for runners
  • No slip gripper on each arm 

Cons:

  • No SPF, reflective details, pockets, or silky fit—basic arm sleeves

Best for Performance — CEP Compression

Arm Sleeve — $40

Best for all runs

If you are most interested in maintaining your running form and keeping your upper body from feeling fatigued, invest in a pair of the CEP Compression Arm Sleeves. Although these arm sleeves are more expensive than most of the others on this list (so you won’t want to throw them away), that’s because they are built with the main goal of fighting fatigue, performing your best, and enhancing recovery. They are worn by athletes and manual workers alike.

CEP Compression Arm Sleeves
CEP Compression Arm Sleeves

CEP’s Compression Arm Sleeves feature high-tech compression technology to stabilize muscles, prevent injuries, speed up recovery, and give an extra boost of energy. The anatomically designed fit has a non-slip wrinkly-free feel, targeted compression including around the elbow joint, and allows for full range of motion. It is one of the most compressive sleeves on this list but it the right places (e.g. not along the seams so they are impossible to take off!)

Pros:

  • Targets compression for muscles and joints
  • Optimal thermal regulation
  • Full range of motion
  • Non-slip and on-bunching
  • Second-skin feel
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking material
  • Helps if you have any arm or elbow injuries

Cons:

  • No SPF protection
  • Not as warm as others
  • A couple of reviewers said they weren’t as durable as they would like (stitching came undone—wash on delicate and air dry to prevent this)

Related: 16+ Arm Workouts for Runners

Most Dynamic — Compressport Arm Force Ultralight Sleeves

 — $32

Best for race day (if you plan to keep) & all runs 

Popularized by cyclists, the Compressport Arm Force Ultralight compression arm sleeves are top notch at keeping you comfortable no matter the weather and how hard you are working. With maximum

Compressport Arm Force Ultralight Sleeves
Compressport Arm Force Ultralight Sleeves

thermoregulations for your forearms and biceps, these keep you cool on hot days, and warm when it’s cool. They also are ergonomically constructed with a seamless microfiber weave allowing for freedom of movement.

High ventilation with a lightweight fabric keeps your arms cool and dry. These arm sleeves are the most high-tech feeling of the compression sleeves on this list. They also come in four vibrant colors and are perfect if a triathlon is in your future! Users said their arms had faster recovery after hard workouts wearing these arm sleeves!

Pros:

  • Ultralight material stays put for comfort
  • The most freedom in movement for compression sleeves
  • Supreme thermoregulation plus air ventilation
  • Signature 3D.Dots on forearms for enhanced blood circulation in arm muscles
  • Quick to pull on and remove
  • Pretty colors

Cons:

  • Some didn’t like how lightweight they felt (yet were surprised how the compression kept them warm!)
  • No additional protection from harmful UV rays

Compression arm sleeves are an amazing recovery tool and performance enhancer often overlooked in a runner’s toolbox. I hope you find the perfect fit for your goals here!

If you need guidance with your training and going after your goals in the winter months, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:

 

 

 

 

 

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