Common Pickleball Injuries


Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and has exploded in popularity because of how fun and easy it is to play. Give it a try and I dare you to stop, because in my opinion, it is highly addictive!

Pickleball combines the racket sports of ping pong, badminton, and tennis into one game that anyone can enjoy. For those who have played a racket sport in their lifetime, pickleball feels almost too easy to learn, yet frustratingly difficult to master. Players use a lightweight ball and a paddle that is somewhere between the size of a ping pong paddle and a tennis racket. The court is similar in size to badminton but with a shortened tennis net. As with any sport, pickleball has its faults with injuries and accidents. This blog will focus on common pickleball injuries and tips from our physical therapist in Edmonton on how to minimize your risk of injury.


Common pickleball injuries

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is a strong band of connective tissue that connects your calf muscles to the back of your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon which can occur in individuals with tight calves or in those who have suddenly increased their intensity or duration of their running, including in pickleball. It results in pain between the middle of your calf to your heel.


Ankle sprain

Ankle sprains in pickleball are usually due to the stop and go movements and frequent quick changes of direction. A player may be at risk of rolling or twisting their ankle in an awkward position during game play. A sprained ankle is the result of an overstretched ligament and can be of variable level of severity.


Knee pain

Knee pain can be caused by a variety of reasons including a ligament injury, meniscus injury, or simply due to wear and tear similar to in osteoarthritis. In pickleball, knee pain can occur due to the sports’ starts and stops as well as the need to quickly pivot at times which puts your knees at risk.


Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain tends to be aggravated with overhead movements including volleying the ball and not to mention during those moments when a player gets to smash the pickle ball. This repetitive overhead activity can produce enough force on the shoulder to cause inflammation or tendonitis of the rotator cuff tendon.


Tennis elbow

Funny enough, with pickleball’s growing popularity, players will sometimes refer to tennis elbow as ‘pickleball elbow’! Tennis elbow is characterized by pain on the outside of the elbow and can extend into the forearm. This injury is due to overuse activities such as repetitive movements like swinging a pickleball paddle or making repetitive contact with the pickle ball. Over time, this can place repetitive stress in your forearm muscles, leading to elbow pain.


How to avoid pickleball injuries

As with most sports, injury is often inevitable. As a result, the best course of action to avoid injury is prevention. We’ve rounded up a few “prehab” (preventive rehabilitation) tips and tricks to minimize your chance of injury.


Wear proper footwear

Whether you are playing indoors or outdoors, appropriate footwear is a must. It is important to wear the appropriate indoor or outdoor court shoes (or tennis shoes) that will allow you to move around the court, both from side to side as well as forwards and backwards. Remember, an outdoor shoe may not translate well to an indoor court surface and vice versa. A few keys points to consider when picking your shoes are good ankle support, good grip, lightweight material and, most importantly, a comfortable fit.


Warm up

This point can’t be stressed enough as it is essential to get warmed up before you start to play any sport. A good way to warm up in pickleball is to gently pass the pickle ball back and forth with your opponent. Once you have a bit of a rhythm, then gradually increase the pace of the ball as well as the difficulty in retrieving a pass. This will help warm up both your muscles and your cardiovascular system.


Stretch

This is probably undervalued by most recreational athletes. It is important to maintain your mobility and your flexibility by stretching all the major muscle groups before you begin to play. Stretching is always more fun (and you are more likely to do it!) as a group. Round up all the players and work on some head to toes mobility!


Maintain physical fitness

The concept of progressive overload, which is most often talked about in weight training, is just as important with pickleball. Start with opponents of your caliber and aim for light frequency of games. Keep active throughout your daily life to build a healthy lifestyle. Being sedentary for too long, or too frequently will lead to muscle and endurance degradation which can result in potential injuries from activities that you normally love to do. An active body is a happy body!


Be aware of your limitations

If you are starting to fatigue or feel that something isn’t quite right, it might be best to call it quits or sit the next game out. Don’t keep pushing into an injury as it can quickly worsen. If you’re unsure what to do to get back on the court as soon as possible, your sports physiotherapist in Edmonton at Reach is ready to help you get back to what matters!


How your sports physiotherapist can help

As discussed above, maintaining your physical fitness and conditioning will go a long way in injury prevention. However, after any injury, your physiotherapist in Edmonton will assess and determine the cause of your injury by screening for any serious conditions. After determining the cause of your injury, your physiotherapist will work with you to develop a plan and together, you will determine the best treatment options for your injury. Don't let aches and pain keep you away front the court. We're here to help!



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