Have you ever wondered why Kobe Bryant wears a sleeve on his right elbow? Kobe has been known to be fashion forward in the sports world, but that elbow sleeve is not for fashion purposes. As a matter of fact, Kobe Bryant suffers from elbow tendinitis, and the sleeve that Kobe Bryant wears on his right arm each game has multiple functions. Before understanding the importance of the sleeve, first take a look at a quick explanation of the type of elbow tendinitis that Kobe suffers from as explained by orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Robert Klapper, who is very familiar with Kobe Bryant’s injury.
“There’s three main nerves that go to the forearm and hand and they pass around the elbow…the nerve that’s responsible for spreading your fingers and for sensation to your little finger and ring finger is the funny bone nerve called the ulnar nerve and that’s the nerve that he (Kobe) bruised.”
As one can imagine, bruising a nerve that’s responsible for spreading your fingers would be uncomfortable for anyone, nonetheless a professional basketball player. But, Kobe Bryant wouldn’t allow elbow tendinitis to sideline him from basketball, and as Dr. Klapper explains that elbow sleeve is extremely important to enable Kobe to perform on the court each night.
“That special pad that he’s wearing does a couple of things, number one, it protects him from getting banged on it again because there’s just skin and then the nerve but also that forearm sleeve gives compression to the muscles that actually get their electrical supply from that nerve…so two things are happening from that simple sleeve.”
So, there you have it. The sleeve might look simple, but it’s imperative to keeping the Black Mamba in peak performance. And, next time, you wonder why Kobe’s having an off shooting night (or week), try shooting a basketball without being able to spread your fingers.
VIDEO: Dr. Klapper Talks About Kobe Bryant’s Sprained Ankle And Elbow Tendinitis