Compression Sleeves may HURT rather than HELP

Medically Reviewed By | Johannah Gregg, DNP FNP-C

It’s common for providers to recommend compression garments to help with injuries and soreness.

You may have also noticed some of your favorite professional basketball, baseball, football, and tennis athletes wearing sleeves, braces, bands, and wraps around various joints and body parts while on the field or court. This became very popular in the 2000s and continued into the next decade.

These may be compression garments; however, there are many types of support that professional athletes now wear. Today, more and more athletes are moving away from compression and searching for other options.

Physical therapists, doctors, and athletic coaches never recommend using compression socks or braces anymore because this outdated method to alleviate pain has been proven to be ineffective. What’s more, it can actually hurt you instead of help.

Decades ago, athletes were taught the RICE method. That stood for “rest, ice, compression, and elevation.” But that’s the last thing you should do. An in-depth study published by the Journal of Athletic Training showed that it simply doesn’t work.

Icing or cryotherapy, for example, has been found to delay the healing process. The same can be said for complete rest, compression and elevation for the targeted body part. Even Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who invented the term “RICE” before completing his medical education back in the 1970s, has since redacted his publications and is vehemently opposed to the “RICE” approach, stating that anything that reduces the body’s natural immune response to injury also delays healing.

It turns out compression is more likely to delay healing. Let’s take a closer look at 5 reasons why you should never wear a compression brace or sleeve on an injured or painful area:



If you’ve ever worn compression socks or a sleeve, you know it feels like it’s cutting off your blood supply. Well, it is! Compression products act as a tourniquet and stop your blood from flowing into the area where you need it the most. Without fresh oxygen and nutrients that come with fresh blood, healing simply can’t occur.

Think about it: You’d never compress a body part on a person with diabetes who has circulation problems. More and more, the research shows that compression does not improve the healing process. Increasingly, doctors are moving away from compression, and some do not prescribe it at all for post-surgical recovery.


There’s a difference between inflammation and swelling, and it’s worth understanding when you’re injured and looking for relief from pain. Inflammation is a bodily response that is triggered when your living tissues are damaged. It’s an important process your body goes through to remove damaged tissues and help your body heal.

Swelling is the accumulation of fluid within the tissue. Swelling can delay healing because it compresses the small blood vessels in the tissue, preventing the delivery of fresh nutrients, immune molecules, and oxygen to the injured area. Swelling can also lead to a chronic or prolonged inflammatory response, which results in pain and further tissue damage.

When you compress your ankle, wrist, foot or other body part at rest, you squeeze the vessels and collapse your lymphatic system. This prevents the circulation of blood and only prevents swelling temporarily.

Extended Use of Compression Can Cause Problems

It’s unlikely that compression can cause any harm when worn in short bursts. However, tight squeezing on your body for prolonged periods could have some unwanted side effects.

If you compress a body part for more than a few hours, the reduction in circulation can lead to tissue damage. Therefore, compression is not safe for prolonged use.

Compression Is Not Optimal for All Body Types

Any piece of compression clothing, whether it’s compression arm sleeves or knee compression sleeves, may hit the right pressure point on one athlete but completely miss it on another. Factors like proportions, height, and weight will have to be considered with a compression garment. Someone may have to go through a few garments before they feel like they’ve found one that’s wearable, let alone doing anything beneficial for them.


An injury or a pain point shouldn’t cause additional health concerns, but that’s exactly what happens when you use excessive or improper compression therapy. Compression can cause systolic blood pressure to increase. That’s because your body must push your blood through the area that’s being squeezed. This can have a lasting effect on vascular elasticity, resulting in an inability to return to normal vascularization after long-term use of compression, resulting in future issues.

But it gets even worse. Compression can also decrease the body's ability to release heat. This can trap excess heat, cause your body to overheat and disrupt the process of thermoregulation. This is a necessary function of a healthy body.

Studies do not support the claims that compression increases performance or blood flow or positively affects recovery.

I want to see how Incrediwear Works >>>


Unlike compression products, Incrediwear relies on state-of-the-art technology that increases circulation and reduces inflammation to support the healing process.

Incrediwear braces, sleeves, gloves, and socks are recommended by medical professionals, including doctors from the Mayo Clinic, Andrews Institute, The Center for Advanced Orthopedics, ISMI, and many more.

Plus, many professional athletes and trainers in several sports worldwide are proud to be ambassadors for the Incrediwear products they use every day to help improve their performance.

Many studies have proven that increasing circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the targeted area, which in turn supports the body’s natural healing process and accelerates recovery. This is just as true for athletes as it is for someone going through the post-operative recovery process.

Incrediwear integrates semiconductor elements Germanium and Carbon within the fabric to release therapeutic negative ions and infrared waves when activated with your own body heat. Those negative ions support cellular function and healing, and the infrared waves activate vibrations on a cellular level, which invites blood flow to the area. This increases circulation and helps the body heal.

When you have enhanced blood flow in a targeted area, it’s simply easier to move your body — which in turn helps you feel better faster.

Incrediwear works for all body types, regardless of age, height, weight, gender, or measurements. With any sleeve, brace, or wrap you choose, you’ll know it will fit right on the first try. Unlike with a lot of compression clothing, there’s no need to feel like your body may be “not right” for anything we offer.

“The difference between Incrediwear and compression is huge,” said Jackson Corley, the founder of Incrediwear. “It just has to touch your skin. When it touches your skin, it increases blood flow and blood speed. It’s allowing your body to heal.”

For optimal success, it’s recommended to use the Incrediwear products both during the day and in bed at night. Again, unlike compression garments, Incrediwear is extremely comfortable and can safely be worn without feeling constricted around the clock. These products can help with everything from sprains and arthritis to muscle fatigue, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, menstrual cramps, and back pain.

Professional athletes who swear by the Incrediwear products know they provide extremely different results from compression-based products. Many people have discovered they no longer need to consider surgery, thanks to Incrediwear’s healing benefits. Many users notice a difference almost instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you not wear knee compression sleeves?

Knee compression sleeves are good for targeted support, but there are times to give them a break. Do not wear compression sleeves if you have:

  • Severe circulation issues. Compression can restrict blood flow and worsen problems like PAD.
  • Open wounds or rashes. The sleeves can irritate the area.
  • Undiagnosed knee pain. Consult a doctor first to diagnose a problem a sleeve can’t fix.
  • No knee pain or instability. Sleeves are for targeted support, not everyday wear. Take them off for long periods to avoid weakening knee muscles.
  • Recent surgery. Ask your doctor if it’s safe to wear a sleeve after a knee surgery.

Can compression sleeves make swelling worse?

Wearing compression sleeves can temporarily reduce swelling, but may not provide long term benefits. Swelling is often a result of the inflammatory process, which is necessary to bring healing molecules, nutrients and oxygen to an injured area as it heals. Compression can squeeze excess fluid, but can hinder the healing process by preventing fresh blood from entering and circulating as it’s intended. Some sources even suggest constantly using compression gear might even collapse the lymphatic system. When in doubt, it’s always better to consult your doctor. They can help you understand the cause of your swelling and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

What are the side effects of compression sleeves?

Wearing compression garments for short period of time is generally safe, but there could be some potential side effects. Improper fit can cause skin irritation, including rashes, itching, or temporary indentations. For those with sensitive skin, the material itself can cause discomfort. Tight compression sleeves can restrict blood flow, which is especially problematic if you have pre-existing circulatory problems. Compression should not be worn for a prolonged period or overnight, since restricting blood flow can lead to tissue damage. Apart from this, constantly wearing them might weaken your muscles by relying too much on the sleeve for support. To minimize these risks, choose the right size, prioritize breathable material, and take them off periodically throughout the day.

Can knee compression sleeves cause blood clots?

Knee compression sleeves are designed to reduce the risk of blood clots, not cause them. They work by applying pressure that helps push excess fluid out of the tissue. This is beneficial for those who sit or stand for longer periods. However, wearing them incorrectly can have the opposite effect. Excessively tight sleeves can potentially restrict blood flow, which could theoretically increase clot risk. Choose the correct size and follow the recommended wear time according to a doctor’s or manufacturer’s instructions. If you have any concerns about circulation or a history of blood clots, ask your doctor before using knee compression sleeves.


Hi Darla, if you are suffering from a long-term injury that is struggling to heal, we would suggest speaking to your doctor before using our products as they will be best placed to advise you.

Incrediwear Team February 27, 2023

I have a broken patella that won’t heal. I have 6 months out from the injury. Will these help?

Darla Sargeant February 27, 2023

Hi David, our products do not use compression. Where compression uses controlled pressure to restrict blood flow, our technology incorporates semiconductor elements that release negative ions when stimulated by body heat. You can read more about our unique technology here:

Incrediwear Team January 25, 2023

So.. how is this not just your brand of compression sleeve?

David M January 25, 2023

Hi Marlene, we would recommend giving our best-selling knee sleeve a try! You can find it here:

If you are suffering from persistent pain, we would also recommend seeking medical advice just to make sure everything is okay.

Incrediwear Team December 09, 2022

I had a knee replacement 15 years ago. Its still good snd I hike, snowshoe and do yoga. After 5 miles if hiking, knee hurts a little. What product that you sell would help me?

Marlene Stein December 09, 2022

Hi Christine. Yes, absolutely – our leg sleeves, arm sleeves, and circulation socks can all be used safely by people with lymphoedema.

Incrediwear Team October 19, 2022

Hi Sue, you can find some of our suggestions for the particular conditions you mentioned on these pages:

However, we would always recommend consulting with your doctor or medical team to ensure that you are choosing the right products for you.

Incrediwear Team October 18, 2022

Hi Susan, yes, we ship to Canada. Please check out our Shipping page for more information:

Incrediwear Team October 18, 2022

Hi Linda, our knee sleeves currently go up to 3X.

Incrediwear Team October 18, 2022

Hi iam wearing a made brace from a hand therapists also compression gloves I have tendinitis and arthritis in both hands tennis elbow in both elbows and carpet tunnel and I have in my right ankle pulled muscle and tendons so what do I wear

Sue Borg October 18, 2022

Hi, can incrediwear be worn by people suffering from lymphoedema in arms or legs? And if they can’t, what would the reason be?
Many thanks.

Christine Daly October 19, 2022

I have problem with my sciatica, the leg sleeve would helps with this problem .

Maru Fletes October 18, 2022

What is the largest size you make? I will need 3x-4x knee sleeve..

Linda Jett October 18, 2022

Do you ship to and within Canada??

Susan Shimodaira October 14, 2022

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