Best Elbow Pads for Martial Arts Reviewed & Rated

The world of athleticism is a physically demanding one. Whether you are simply exercising or practicing in a martial art,  your body is what is being pushed in order to achieve your physical goals. Since most if not all parts of your body are being strained in the process, you are going to want to take care of yourself properly, otherwise, you run the risk of putting yourself entirely out of commission for extended periods of time. There are a number of ways to go about protecting your body from debilitation.

In the world of fighting, its physical demand is not any different. Most martial arts have a focus on strikes from and to an opponent. In the case of fist strikes, not only are you putting tension on your fists but the entirety of your arm, especially your elbows. In your school, you are trained on how to throw a proper fist strike. However, even the most skilled striker will attest to still needing proper elbow support due to the prolonged striking sessions that can still wear your elbows out, even with proper fist placement.

Featured Recommendations

Bodyprox Elbow Protection
  • Bodyprox Elbow Protection
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Affordable
  • Pair
  • Price: See Here
Alta Tactical
  • Alta Tactical
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Multiple Uses
  • Style Choice
  • Price: See Here
MACS Support Sleeve
  • MACS Support Sleeve
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable
  • Long Lasting
  • Price: See Here

The online world has quite a market for elbow protection and support. Vendors offer a variety of padding and support sleeves at varying sizes, materials, functions and even prices. Sizes normally are followed by a shift in price, which can make choosing proper elbow support a little daunting. However, we have looked at a selection of elbow pads with scrutiny, determining what makes an elbow pad the most efficient above them all. In the end, this buyer’s guide can save you time, saving you the trouble of drowning in a sea of online options, as we not only review what we believe is the best but go over in depth the attributes that determine such claims.

 

10 Best Elbow Pads

 

1. Bodyprox Elbow Protection

Bodyprox is a business better known for their pain alleviating and preventative body protection. They advertise themselves as modern-day medics in the field of protective gear. They guarantee that their merchandise can alleviate the pain from bruising that normally comes with the world of athleticism, as well as providing great armor for the body.
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Foam Pad Grid
Science meets body protection. The foam padding in this item is placed in a way for maximum protection. Place in small pieces that all together form a circular grid pattern. The placement of padding is for the intent of better absorbing and disbursement of blunt trauma, whether it be from direct strikes, or from falling down.

Supporting Fit
The sleeves fabric has multiple features. The material making up the sleeve is not only meant to keep the padding on your elbow but also provides additional joint support. Its also a breathable fabric, which prevents over perspiration. Great for anyone with achy joints or sweat problems

Cost and Value
This entry is on the lower end of our pricing scale. Coming in a pair, this comfortable and durable option will make sure both of your elbows get the proper protection they need in order for you to perform better. Being affordable means that this is a great option for beginners or anyone looking for a quick and cheap replacement. Sizes affect the cost, if only slightly.
Pros
  • Snug Fit
  • Great Protection
  • Joint Support
  • Breathable Fabric
Cons
  • Bigger Than Specified

2. Alta Tactical

Alta has been in the elbow and knee protection business for about 37 years. They provide products that even the American military have deemed as excellent, considering the strenuous activity they undergo. Whether its gear for hiking, biking or even some fitness, if it is superior protection you are looking for, then look no further than Alta.
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Rubber Cap
The Tactical elbow pad provides superior protection. It features a green cap made of rubber placed on the nylon covered material, for its protective characteristics. This gives it more of a multi-purpose nature, being useful in more than just the gym. In the gym, however, these would make perfect elbow guards for various forms of offensive weapons training.

Adjustable Fit
The elbow pads feature an adjustable fitting mechanism. Better known as velcro, the "hook and loop system" is made of two separate strips that come together to fasten whatever the strips are attached to, to whatever it is you want to attach it to. The presence of this material makes the pad fasten to you in just about whatever size you need it to be.

Cost and Value
The Alta Tactical is in the low to mid-range on the buyer's guides pricing scale. Still affordable for the person on a budget, spending only a little more can net you a solid piece of protective gear, loved by military personnel. Its multi-use gives it more of a value as well, so consider this option if you are active in more than one physical hobby.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Rubber Cap
  • Adjustable
  • Durable
Cons
  • Less Comfortable Alone

3. MACS Support Sleeve

Martial Arts City Supplies, or MACS for short, deals with specifically martial arts gear. Not only do they sell it, they also manufacture it. Selling major names alongside their own, they have a vast selection of uniforms, boxing gear and more. Most importantly, they carry martial arts protective gear.
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Great for Martial Arts
The MACS sleeve was developed for martial artists. Whether you are in Muay Thai, Karate, or Boxing, this support sleeve can benefit all who participate in a martial art. Its breathable material, efficient and unobtrusive gel padding and easy slip-on feature make this perfect for protection without sacrificing the necessary mobility.

Made for Daily Use
These sleeves hold up well under several strains. Martial arts requires a lot of movement and eventually friction, and these will ensure safety for a long period of time. In addition to its longevity, its washer safe, still holding up after being run through a washer and dryer after every practice session.

Cost and Value
The MACS Support Sleeve is rated as our best value on this buyer's guide. Anyone who wants to train in a gym will have need of protection like this, and its pricing makes it so anyone can choose to train. Even those with the smallest of wallets can pick these up without breaking their banks. Beginners may want to consider starting here in obtaining proper and cheap gear.
Pros
  • Best Value
  • Breathable Material
  • Durable Gel
  • Great for Beginners
Cons
  • Can Slip Off

4. COOLOMG Combat

4. COOLOMG Combat
COOLOMG specializes in elbow and knee protection of variety. Founded in 2015, the company has made a good name for themselves with their products. They are a very esteemed martial arts protective gear business and have a very successful online storefront. Not just for martial arts, this particular item is convenient for some sports as well.
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Variety of Styles
This particular padding comes in a great variety of colors and prints. Using safe inks and safe dying processes, it is washer safe without worrying about bleeding or fading in your washer. Having a variety of styles means you are more likely to find one or more that you wouldn't mind sporting. However, some styles varying in price, so keep an eye out for that, even if the change is little.

Non-Slip Strip
The sleeve features an anti-slip feature, preventing unwanted slipping. It can be found lining the inside of the sleeve and down the length of it. The specially designed strip has a surface causing it to stay seemingly fixed to your skin. This allows you to train without obnoxious sleeve slippage.

Cost and Value
The COOLOMG sleeve sits in the low range of our buyer's guide. However, this has a lot to do with the fact that the sleeve is sold individually, requiring you to add a second not just to your cart, but to the total as well. The second puts the cost in the mid-range of the guide but is by no means extremely expensive. The quality you get from the sleeve makes for a decent offer for beginners and normal practitioners alike
Pros
  • Great Padding
  • Quality Desing
  • Anti-Slip Strip
  • Breathable
Cons
  • Single Sleeve

5. McDavid Hex Pad

5. McDavid Hex Pad
McDavid has a lengthy story to its history, starting back in 1969. Dr. Robert F. McDavid founded the company and is also its namesake. Dedicated to developing effective and even redefining gear for athletes of all kinds, McDavid is a trusted brand all thanks to effective gear. Not just meant for sports, this item can be used in martial arts as well.
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Hex Padding
McDavid developed the redefining hex pattern foam padding. When they released it to the world in 2006, the world of protective gear evolved, with other brands producing similar items. It better absorbs shock than single pieces of padding, making it great for sparring and floor work. The padding is also very durable, making it ideal for the heaviest of training.

Breathable
The material of the sleeve itself is a nylon and spandex blend the grants many benefits to the wearer. Not only is this great for comfort and fitting, but it is also breathable, helping to prevent the overheating and even the over sweating of your body. The material comes in a variety of colors as well, giving you an option in aesthetic.

Cost and Value
The McDavid Sleeve comes in on the mid-range of the pricing scale. Not only is it pricier than others, it is also a single sleeve, requiring you buy more than one if you require it. The size and colors can also make the price vary so pay close attention to your total price as you select options to ensure you don't end up spending more than you intended.
Pros
  • Hex Padding
  • Nylon and Spandex
  • Color Choice
  • High Quality
Cons
  • Single Sleeve

6. Wesing Muay Thai

6. Wesing Muay Thai
Wesing is a company located and founded in the Fujian Province of China. Founded in 1989, the company has made a name for itself through the years. They are recognized by major sports and martial arts official associations for their superior products. As a result, the brand is a trusted leader in the world of martial arts protective gear.
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Made for Muay Thai
As the name suggests, this elbow protector was designed with Muay Thai primarily in mind. Muay Thai, also known as the "Art of Eight Limbs" relies heavily on strikes not just from your hands and feet, but from your knees and elbows as well. Therefore, an elbow pad designed with keeping your elbows as well as your sparring partner safe is a perfect choice for anyone in a martial art.

Adjustable Fit
This protector uses a hook and loop system for its fitting mechanism. Better known as velcro, the hook and loop system allows for elbows of varying sizes to be able to wear a size. Not to be mistaken for one size fits all, as there are some people who will need a bigger or smaller size. At any rate, the system is efficient and should not wear out too easily.

Cost and Value
The Muay Thai Guard sits in the mid-range of the pricing scale. However, in this offer, you do get a pair for both elbows which actually evens out the value in the face of its cost. Paying a little bit more will give you a set of protective gear recognized by major martial arts associations. This should speak highly of the items quality.
Pros
  • Muay Thai Made
  • High Quality
  • Affordable
  • Pair of Guards
Cons
  • No Color Choice

7. RDX MMA

7. RDX MMA
RDX is a boxing equipment company stationed in the UK. Having been founded fairly recently, the company is well known and held in high esteem by many professional MMA fighters. They bring a lot of original and very effective ideas to the world of fight gear. Some professional boxers can be seen dawning the equipment in live boxing events. If it is quality you are after, look no further than RDX.
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Anti Moisture
This sleeve is designed to prevent over perspiring while offering other benefits to you. The fibers are made up of a sweat-wicking kind of material that keeps your elbow cool, it also keeps it dry. The mesh is patterned in a way to keep air circulating, which also aids in the prevention of sweat. Lastly, the material also helps support your joints and hold the protective pad in place.

Additional Support
This sleeves pad is low profile, being covered by the aforementioned material. However, underneath the material is a strap system. This system is designed to further promote protection by keeping the pad itself fixed to your body. With this feature, it is less likely than others that you will have troubles keeping your elbows safe in training.

Cost and Value
The RDX Sleeve sits in the low to middle range of the pricing scale. Without being too costly you get yourself set up with a pair of high-quality elbow defenders. Being made by a trusted name for their known quality, the value of this deal becomes even more clear. A great choice for beginners and professionals alike.
Pros
  • Professionally Loved
  • High Quality
  • Durable
  • Long Lasting
Cons
  • Size Runs Small

8. TTIO Pads

8. TTIO Pads
TTIO is primarily an online vendor. This vendor has a focus on selling merchandise for augmenting outdoor and physical activities. They sell a vast selection of body protection, tactical gear like binoculars, skiing equipment and more. In this offer, they sell a set of elbow pads that provide great elbow protection for any martial artist.
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Chiffon
These elbow pads use chiffon as the main cover material. Chiffon is a type of lightweight fabric seen often in women's clothing, such as a scarf-like accessory. It is made up of either spandex or nylon and has a slight elastic effect to it. It makes up the sleeve part of the elbow pad and provide excellent breathing and keeps your elbow cool while clinging effectively to your skin.

Great Padding
This set of elbow pads have very effective padding. The entire pad is placed on top of the chiffon and is meant to contour your elbow. The padding was developed to have its most protective parts spread out in a grid fashion for great shock absorption and disbursement. Additionally, the padding is not very large, which adds to its already great maneuverability.

Cost and Value
This particular pair of pads is placed at the mid-range of the pricing scale. Unlike some vendors, you get two pads. This can help justify its cost a little, as well as the quality of the item itself. For a little more money you get a simple but effective means of martial arts protection.
Pros
  • Chiffon
  • Durable Padding
  • Easy Slip-On
  • Anti Slip Strip
Cons
  • Costly

9. G-Form Pro-X

9. G-Form Pro-X
G-Form is a company that deals with sports protective gear. The company was founded by a team of avid athletes who would know better than others about what is most needed in matters of the equipment used. As a result, they have worked hard together in the development of lightweight, but extremely effective gear. This next item is pricey, but will most definitely keep your elbows safe.
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Padding Tech
The Pro-X features G-Form's patented technology. The company has developed a type of foam that stiffens on impact, which aids in the absorption of most shock. Its coated with a type of polymer that furthers serves to absorb shock, as well as give the item a sleek look to it. These features make it better suited in weapons training.

Great Mobility
This item was designed with the intent of the wearer forgetting they are wearing padding. Designed with a sweat-wicking and lightweight fabric, not only is it comfortable, its functional, keeping your even cooler and dryer. It is quite an achievement to develop body protection that is effective while unnoticeable. Typically you sacrifice one for the other but not in this case.

Cost and Value
These sleeves are among the higher priced items on our list. However, there are a lot of positives about this product that can easily justify the cost, should you have that money to spend. Not only is the sleeve itself durable, it is effective in keeping your body durable as well. G-Form achieves a wonderful combination of protection while keeping the design small, sleek and comfortable. On top of all of that, they include this over as a pair!
Pros
  • Very Durable
  • Superior Protection
  • Unhindered Mobility
  • Sleek Design
Cons
  • Costly

10. LiveUp Sports Pad

10. LiveUp Sports Pad
LiveUp Sports was recently established in 2004. They have a focus on body protection and support for athletes of all kinds. Boasting a great number of products, and even product lines, they have made a name for themselves in the past decade or more. In this selection, they offer a simple but effective elbow pad that might be great for a beginner.
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Hybrid Padding
The Padding on this particular elbow pad is made up of several lightweight materials. Made up of a mixture of rubber foam, rubber, and polyester, this padding absorbs most impact during an activity. This mixture does not last as long as other methods but is effective when it does hold up. More suitable for lighter training than, say, weapons training.

Compression Sleeve
A stretchy elastic material makes up the sleeve of the elbow pad. This "four-way stretch" material not only makes it easy to slip on and off, it also has other features. The fit is not just snug, fitting finely to your arm, but it also doubles as extra joint support, enhancing performance and allowing for longer and less strenuous practice.

Cost and Value
This selection sits on the low to mid-range of the pricing scale. Its low cost is due in part to its simple design and hybrid padding, as these features are low cost to develop and manufacture. It is not as durable as some of the other selections, but its low cost makes it an excellent option for a light practitioner, or someone doing general fitness and not much else.
Pros
  • Light
  • Affordable
  • Added Support
  • Great for Beginners
Cons
  • Light Training Only

Now that you have seen what we believe to be the best of the online world, now you can decide for yourself which direction to go. Just as all fighting protection requires, you must be discriminate with your elbow pad preference. Failing to do so can put you at risk for injury, a potential result of getting the inappropriate size whether it is too big or small. In this next section, we go over the aspects that make an elbow pad what it is, as well as some of the things one needs to consider when making their next protective gear purchase.

Criteria for Determining the Best Elbow Pads

Materials

Every elbow pad is made up of a series of materials. Materials all have different characteristics and properties that denote its purpose. Not only do the materials tell of its purpose, but it, more importantly, can inform you just how the specific piece of gear performs. Knowing how materials perform and what their purpose is can help you make a better-educated decision. In this section we will go over the materials commonly used in the gear, and what they do.

  • Nylon-
    Nylon comes in many forms. These different forms are typically achieved by adding another material to the development. Some other’s are just a matter of the pattern used in the development of the item. Nylon is known for its durability and can be found in all manners of wearable clothing and gear.  In elbow pads, this can be in the cloth that makes up the sleeve and covers the padding and can sometimes also be found in the padding itself. It can also be used in the development of chiffon.
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  • Rubber-
    Rubber is a very common material that can be seen in most everything. Rubber is a low-cost material and can often be a factor into something being of low cost, as it is extremely cheap to produce in bulk. It is also known for its high durability. It can almost always be found making up the padding or covering a padding on elbow protection. In some cases, rubber is used into the mixture that makes up padding.
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  • Foam-
    Foam is a rather broad term for something multi-faceted. Foam is always a mixture of certain base materials, like various polymers. It is developed to be soft, with the intent for safety. It can be found protecting not just body parts, but breakable items as well. In protective gear, it always makes up part of the actual protection part of the gear, whether it holds a cap in place, or is in the mixture of the cap itself. Many high name companies have patented their own foam mixture in the development of their protective gear.
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  • Polyester-
    Polyester is a synthetic fiber. Used most commonly in clothing items and household furniture, it can also be found miscellaneous items such as blankets and bed sheets. Its known for its “bendability.” On protective gear, it can be found making up the sleeve material and can have a number of features such as clinging, elasticity, and even holding parts of the piece together. Typically blended with other materials to produce effects such as breathability, or strengthed cling and support, polyester is a very versatile and effective material.
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  • Chiffon-
    Chiffon is another mixed type of fabric. Made up of silk or nylon, it is normally used in clothing and some decorative things. It is a very lightweight and breathable material. It can be found making up the sleeve of most sleeved protective gear, as it is stretchy and helps keep your body cool. Some companies weave into it a sweat-wicking mesh that helps with sweat management.
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  • Hook and Loop Fasteners-
    Hook and Loop fasteners are methods of attaching an item to the self or another thing. The brand Velcro is the reason everyone refers to this thing as Velcro, despite that only being a brand name for a hook and loop fastener. It typically is made up of two strips of different materials, one made up of thin fibers and another to hold the fibers in place. Highly known for adjustability, you can make whatever piece of equipment as tight or as loose as you need it on the fly.

 

Intended Use

There are many uses for each kind of elbow protection. Some are used primarily for support and others for physical protection, whether from incoming strikes or just weathering a harsh environment. Knowing what you are going to need the support or protection for will make all of the difference in choosing your next potential protective purchase. In this section, we will go over the different activities that may require body protection, and just what kind is most effective there.

  • Fitness-
    Typically, anyone hitting the gym just for general fitness will more than likely not need any elbow protection. In the smallest case, these people can benefit from maybe just a support sleeve that may enhance performance, which will allow you to do cardio for longer periods without getting sore afterward. Some people do light sparring for fitness, in which case you can benefit from something offering a little protection.
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  • Grappling-
    Grappling covers a lot of more direct techniques. Grappling can be seen in boxing, which a lot of people refer to as “hugging.” It can also be seen in most MMA, as grappling in that sense, refers to most of the techniques used while you or an opponent is on the ground. This normally involves exposing and exploiting a limbs bendable limit, inflicting an enormous amount of pain until one taps out. This may require very light padding since this will be one the floor.
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  • Sparring- 
    Those who are looking to get into a martial art, as well as those who are already invested in one, will have need of varying degrees of protection. In most martial arts, sparring is an extremely necessary component to the mastery of its techniques. This will involve not just you throwing strikes, but also being struck, as to learn proper defensive techniques. If doing unarmed strikes and grappling, you will need something fairly protective as well as something that does not limit your mobility.
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  • Weapons Training-
    Certain martial arts make use of various weapons. Furthermore, some martial arts have a singular focus on the use of a weapon. These martial arts make use of various safe forms of training, such as soft variations of otherwise lethal weapons. In a lot of other cases, as seen in Kendo or Iaido, that focus heavily on sword use, they use wooden versions of swords, which will require you to have very adequate body protection. Sparring in these mentioned arts will require the use of Arm Guards and Sleeves, which cover a larger portion of the elbow and arm, as well as offer much sturdier protection.

Now that we have gone over some of the important aspects of elbow gear, you should have all that you need to make an informed and easy choice. Choosing the correct protective gear, in any event, is paramount. You likely do not want to risk injuring your arm to the point that you can no longer train for however long it takes to heal. So take these facts into consideration when online shopping and the rest should come as an easy endeavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Do all elbow pads come in a set?
A:
  Not always. Some vendors sell elbow protection one piece instead of in a pair. There are many vendors who sell their products in a pair. Meanwhile, some vendors give you the option to buy either individually or in a pair. This almost always results in a price adjustment, so keep a keen eye out for that, in the event this happens.

Q: Does one size fit all?
A: Almost never does one size fit all in matters of an elbow or general body protection. Some vendors have self-styled size charts, so you will have to refer to one of those to find what size is good for you if that is the case. Some have a simple S to XL range, whereas others may have a little more details in between like “youth large” or “2XL.”

Q: Are there options for protection for a range of activities?
A: Yes. Actually, a lot of the selections on the list are originally intended for sports or other outdoor activities. A lot of these double just fine as a repurposed martial art protection. Some armor was intended for a specific martial art, like Muay Thai or Fencing, but some protection designed with martial arts in mind is developed for use in other activities as well.

Q: Are the options for a fighter on a budget?
A: Yes. In most cases, there is always an option for affordable gear for the fighter on a budget. Elbow Pads are of no exception, as the internet has a slew of options that vary in price, as well as quality. Beginners can benefit the most from cheaper gear as it doesn’t cost as much and won’t likely go under heavy use right off of the top.

Q: Are there any sizes available for my child?
A: Absolutely. Not only do most vendors offer protection in a smaller or youth size, but some advertise that very thing. Certain vendors will include if their gear is designed for, or can be used for children. Often, you can select this on the size options, but in other cases, the items will include if its intended for the youth of a small age group and therefore won’t have any need for a size selection.

Sources

  1. Bodyprox, About Us,
  2. Alta, About Us,
  3. Wikipedia, Hook and loop fastener,
  4. MACS, About Us,
  5. Coolomg, About Us,