why do basketball players wear sleeves

Not a Fashion Statement: Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

Surely everyone who follows basketball and is an avid fan of this sport, knows that the trend of wearing sleeves. Allen Iverson was the first basketball player to appear with such a sleeve on the basketball court which he wore for medical reasons in 2000-2001. His medical team diagnosed him with bursitis of his right elbow. The arm compressions would help deal with the unwanted pain. Not long after, basketball players started to wear sleeves in the basketball court as part of their uniforms.

The nature of the basketball profession is prone to physical injuries. Basketball players are at risk not to be back in the game because of these injuries. But with the help of creative solutions, a simple piece of garment like the sleeves, they are back in court as they cope with the pain of the injury.

Top 4 Reasons Basketball Players Wear Sleeves

If you are not a follower of the sport, you may probably think that the basketball sleeve was just a fashion statement. But actually, it’s more than that. This piece of garment has been helpful with basketball players to play with ease because of several reasons :

1. Arm sleeves relieve the pain.

The use of sleeves aims to reduce the pain in the hand of the basketball player. It affects the area of the arm that extends from the wrist to the elbow. The sleeve creates light compressions on the tissues in the arm that relieve pain.

The arm sleeves relieve pain in two ways.

  • By tightening the sleeve it wraps the sore joints and gives them extra support.
  • By increasing blood flow to the injured areas of the arm. The light compressions that the sleeve makes on the hand stimulate the blood vessels to have increased blood flow. Thus, carrying the blood containing oxygen to sore parts help reduce pain.

2. Basketball players wear sleeves to provide compressions on the arm.

In addition to relieving pain, the sleeve also creates compressions on the arm and sore spots. To understand the essence of compression, we first need to understand how our blood system works.

  • The heart is the main powerhouse that is responsible for many things in our body. It pumps oxygen-rich blood through the arteries to the muscles and extremities.
  • Once the cells use the oxygen, they send blood back to the heart through the veins.
  • The lungs again oxygenated when blood with unwanted substances reaches the heart again.
  • Then the cells receive it back again as they need to have oxygen supply and acid excretion in order to function normally and be efficient.
  • Doing physical activities like playing basketball expels lactic acid. If the heart did not receive back this acid through the veins, limb pains and swelling will result.

The first thing compresses do is to reduce the swelling. What hurts the most is swelling formed in the part of the arm. By gently pressing on the swelling, it helps to reduce pain or even eliminate it.

Another thing about compressions, is that the increased flow of blood full of oxygen. It stimulates the movement of unnecessary acids and substances to the heart where they need to be filtered.

3. Warmth

We all know that before we start exercising or a sport, it is very important to warm up our muscles. By doing so, it protects the body against injuries. It is extremely important and may consist of several exercises that are less intense.

Warming up prepares the cardiovascular system for more strenuous exercise and reduces the chance of getting an injury. This way you get better performance for the activity you are preparing for, in our case a basketball game.

By wearing basketball sleeves, it gives warmth to the muscle and improves blood flow. Thus, the flow of oxygen to the cells also improves. You get a faster ratio of muscle contraction and relaxation and that greatly reduces the chances of getting an injury when you do sports.

4. Fashion Statement

For some basketball players, it can be a kind of superstition. Some say that they would not go out on the field without their arm sleeves believing that it brings them luck. While others wear it as a fashion statement which actually looks good paired with the basketball uniform.

Whether it’s superstition or fashion, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the arm sleeves provide fashion and comfort to the basketball player when worn during the game. It has become a fashion trend that brought confidence in them. It’s like when women wear thongs, it brings comfort and then confidence follows.


We are all aware of how hard it can be to be in the profession of playing sports like basketball. Their daily routine includes several workouts that last for hours. It is a competitive and physical sport that could lead to injuries. Such strenuous physical activities can have consequences for the human body, especially it can affect the muscles and joints.

Basketball players wear the sleeve not only as a fashion statement. But rather to aid in discomfort brought by sore muscle or injury. The basketball sleeves improve the circulation of blood and oxygen in the body. Thus, it increases the efficiency of their performance, reduce the pain they feel from previous injuries, and reduce swelling.

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