The elbow strike is one of the most ridiculously painful and cut-inducing offensive maneuvers in all of martial arts and combat sports, and if used as effectively and precisely as Muay Thai fighters, this strike could inflict major damage on any and all fighters. Conversely, fighters that throw an elbow strike risk damaging their bones and joints on and around the elbow. Regardless of perspective, we believe that it is very important to have protective gear during sparring and combat training, which leads us to our very special discussion about finding the best Muay Thai elbow pads in the market today.
Before we take a look at our list of the best Muay Thai elbow pads, we'll explore their benefits, a few special tips to observe while sparring, and relevant factors to look into before finalizing your purchase.
If you are ready to dive into the world of martial arts through Muay Thai, elbow strikes, and Muay Thai elbow pads, then keep on reading!
Purpose and Benefits of Using Muay Thai Elbow Pads
Muay Thai elbow pads are typically high-density, high-quality protective gear fitted with foam padding.
Some come in carbon fiber material, with velcro strap or hook and loop features for a more secure fit. Others are more traditional and simpler to put on and use but may be more difficult to find a secure and perfect fit.
In this section, let us take a look at the particular benefits of Muay Thai elbow pads from two distinct perspectives: the benefits for the striker with Muay Thai elbow pads and the benefits for the defender (training partner) against strikes with elbow pads.
Benefits for the Striker with Muay Thai Elbow Pads
Maximum Protection of the Elbow
An elbow pad (or elbow protector) is able to provide great elbow protection when throwing elbows of different intensities, whether it be a hard elbow during intense sparring sessions or a light to medium elbow during light sparring.
The high-density padding and strong material that come with a high-quality pair of elbow pads offer great protection and support, ensuring that you have an effective sparring session without risking unnecessary injuries.
Your head and body (torso) are not the only parts that sweat profusely during training and intense sparring sessions.
Our arms, from our hands to our forearms to our biceps and triceps to, most especially, our armpits are laden with sweat glands, causing sweat to pour out of our skin during martial arts or combat sports training, and that includes boxing, mixed martial arts (MMA), kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and of course, Muay Thai.
Having sweat-absorbent foam padding and materials found in every modern-day elbow protector or sleeve can determine how your strikes land on fighters or your sparring partner.
Reduction of Injuries
Overall, we advise all fighters to wear elbow pads whenever possible simply because any type of gear or equipment that offers protection is highly advised, whether sparring for actual bouts and competitions or sparring just for fitness and weight loss goals.
Even in sports outside of combat sports and martial arts, elbow and knee pads are used professionally. This is to prevent any significant injuries from falls, bumps, or any kind of collision.
If non-combat (or non-contact) sports require the use of protection such as elbow pads, then vicious combat sports (or contact sports) such as Muay Thai, MMA, and boxing should require the use of padding and protection that you can get from an elbow pad or elbow sleeve.
Benefits for the Defender (Training Partner) against Strikes with Muay Thai Elbow Pads
Maximum Protection from Elbow Strikes
An elbow strike does not have to be thrown hard to cause significant damage. Once an elbow comes in contact with your face, you will immediately feel the effects, and if an exposed elbow lands at the right spot, it could cause you to bleed profusely. Just check out MMA fighters like Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson so you would get an idea of how deadly an elbow strike can be in the ring.
This is precisely why we advise fighters to wear a pair of elbow pads or an elbow sleeve during training and in every Muay Thai sparring session.
As a sparring partner (defender), receiving elbow strikes during a spar in the ring is not a good feeling, but if the attacking sparring partner has adequate protection and support gear with thick, durable, materials and foam padding, then most of the impact is negated and the risk of cuts and bruises is significantly reduced.
Confidence in Defense and Guard Techniques
As a defender, if you are sparring with elbow pads on for both you and your partner, then you would be more confident in working on your offensive and defensive maneuvers and techniques rather than worrying about the risk of injury or pain.
Again, protection is very important, regardless of whether you are attacking or defending, so if you really want to have a fruitful and safe sparring and training session in the ring with your partner, then both of you should invest in high-quality gear.
Reduction of Injuries
The explanation here is more or less the same as what was mentioned above. Beyond sweat management, foam padding, extra features such as a hook and loop and velcro strap design, it is all about protection in combat in the ring, so do yourself a favor and spar with a pair of quality Muay Thai elbow pads.
Brief Tips for Sparring with Elbows
Sparring in Muay Thai with elbows means that you are looking to work on techniques and combinations that require the use of an additional arsenal of vicious strikes, which is why in this section, we are here to show you a few tips and considerations to keep in mind before entering the ring to spar with elbows and Muay Thai elbow pads.
Agree to Elbow Striking Prior to Entering the Ring to Spar
Having high-quality elbow pads may help reduce the impact and potential of injury and cuts, but you would still have to discuss with your partner whether or not your spar will involve the use of elbows.
Before beginning, discuss the limitations of the use of elbows and agree on certain circumstances wherein elbows are not allowed (perhaps disallowing elbows in the final rounds of sparring or having a signal to stop elbows in the middle of sparring would be beneficial).
Always Wear Elbow Pads When Sparring
Next up, we have talked about this quite a lot already, but you have to always, always wear the pads for elbows.
Even if you are unable to invest in a pad that has great features such as dri-fit technology, carbon fiber materials, and velcro strap mechanisms, having protection that is as simple as a slip fit pair of elbow pads would do wonders in sparring.
Invest in the Best Quality Elbow Pads for Muay Thai
Approaching from an opposite direction is this tip, which is to find the best elbow pads within your means. We are not saying to spend a relatively high amount of money on protection for your elbows, but if you have quite a decent budget, then it may be possible for you to look into the elbow pads that have more features and offer more value despite a higher price point.
Continue to the next section to learn about the factors to consider when choosing elbow pads.
What to Consider When Choosing Muay Thai Elbow Pads
Elbow pads come in all shapes and sizes. There are different features to look into, different material and foam density, and different kinds of padding that all would contribute to how light, effective, and injury-reducing the pair of elbow pads can be.
So before we take a look at popular and highly-touted products for elbows such as the Venum Kontact Elbow Pads or the RDX Dri-fit Elbow Pads, let us take a look at the major factors to consider first.
Materials and Durability
A majority of elbow pads are made from either genuine or synthetic leather as a base. This is not only to give durability and longevity to the gear, but also to have a solid base for impact absorption and injury prevention.
Between synthetic and genuine leather, the latter is the better pick. However, for those on a stricter budget, you would find synthetic leather products that are more affordable without much sacrifice to the performance and durability.
The foam and padding inside the pads for elbows are the most important part as they are responsible for almost everything, from overall weight and flexibility to impact absorption and thickness.
We would recommend going for padding that is roughly 3 inches in thickness. You can play around with this number as most padding designs are compressed to allow for a better aesthetic and portability, but 3 inches is the magic number or reference point.
Elasticity, Size, and Fitting
Elasticity, size, and fitting are closely related to one another when it comes to protection for the elbows.
First of all, people have different sizes and shapes of elbows, so it would be difficult for a manufacturer to produce all shapes and sizes to accommodate all potential buyers.
Second, a lot of elbow pads extend to the biceps and triceps area as well as the forearms, which poses an even more complicated issue for manufacturers to solve.
With these two major issues in mind, it is therefore important for companies to produce or manufacture a variety of different sizes with great elasticity to accommodate the small variations in sizing and fitting.
Trust us when we say that we have seen our fair share of poorly-stitched support gear in the market.
Tying in with elasticity is the big issue of stitching since the stitching has to be reinforced but not too tight as to prevent a certain degree of flexibility and allowance.
Therefore, we recommend finding reputable brands and companies that have a good track record of producing high-quality products that do not skimp on the stitching.
In the case of protection for elbows through sleeves or pads, check for double-stitched (or reinforced) gear for the best results.
The 5 Best Muay Thai Elbow Pads
Without further ado, let us dive into the best elbow pads in the market today.
The RDX Elbow brace features dri-fit sweat management technology with a soft synthetic base, allowing for a very comfortable and relaxing fit, even during the most rigorous training sessions.
The hook and loop strapping system from RDX allows for a perfect fit, as long as you get the right size range to begin with.
The weight of this elbow brace is also worth mentioning, as RDX has made sure that the carbon fiber construction would minimize weight without sacrificing performance and durability.
The Venum Kontact Elbow Protector is as savage as the company that made it.
Constructed with high-quality cotton and built with strategic reinforcements around key points of the protector, you can rest assured that your elbows will be snug, safe, and protected during sparring.
The Venum Kontact Elbow product is essentially a slip fit product but built with a velcro strap on one end for a tighter fit.
The Combat Sports Advanced Striking Elbow Pads may look more traditional and less stylish, but what it lacks in flair, it definitely makes up for in quality and overall protection.
Made with shock-absorbing injected molded foam and durable leather, expect a massively different experience that would lead to safer workout sessions in the long run.
For those looking for a simple, lightweight alternative to the heavier options in this list, the Fairtex Elastic Elbow Pads are the best on the list for you.
Constructed with high-impact-absorbing fabric to prevent injury without sacrificing comfort, these pads will definitely help you get through casual workouts and recovery days with light sparring involved.
Last but not least is another heavy hitter, specifically designed for Mixed Martial Arts, known as the Ring to Cage Deluxe Foam Elbow Pads.
These are heavy-duty pads that offer one of the best leather bases in the market today.
The sleeve is made of neoprene and allows for a very flexible and comfortable fit.
Conclusion (Plus Our Personal Favorite)
Elbow pads are very important in any sport, but most especially the sport of Muay Thai that deals with punishing techniques involving the elbow.
As for our personal favorite, we are going with none other than the RDX Elbow Braces. For all the reasons mentioned above, plus the fact that we have tested the pair out and it is still as durable as it was when we first purchased it, we can go with no other option but this.
Just remember, if you need to refresh on what the best Muay Thai elbow pads are, what to consider during sparring, and what factors to consider before finalizing the purchase, then circle back to this article for guidance. If you would like to look for other combat sports-related content (Muay Thai, MMA, Kickboxing, and many more), check out the rest of our website!