As pickleball continues to gain popularity, more people are discovering the fun and benefits of this exciting sport.
However, with increased participation comes a greater need for awareness and prevention of the most common pickleball injuries.
Like any other sport, pickleball players are susceptible to both acute injuries (sudden injuries) and overuse injuries.
This comprehensive guide will cover some of the most frequent injuries associated with playing pickleball, as well as tips on how to avoid them and maintain a safe, enjoyable experience on the court.
An ankle sprain just might be the most common pickleball injury. They typically occur when a player lands awkwardly on their foot or twists their ankle while moving on the court.
Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the ligaments.
To minimize the risk of ankle sprains, players should invest in proper footwear specifically designed for pickleball. This footwear should provide ample support and stability for lateral movements.
Check out my best pickleball shoes post for some good recommendations!
Additionally, maintaining good court awareness and practicing agility exercises can help players avoid situations that may lead to ankle injuries.
Knee injuries are another prevalent issue for pickleball players. Patellar tendonitis, also known as “jumper’s knee,” results from overuse and stress on the patellar tendon, causing inflammation and pain.
Meniscus tears are another common pickleball injury, which can occur when a player suddenly changes direction or rotates the knee while bearing weight on it.
To prevent knee injuries, players should prioritize strengthening their leg muscles through targeted exercises. Proper warm-up and cool-down routines that include dynamic and static stretching can also help maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of knee injuries.
Additionally, wearing knee braces or supports can provide extra stability and protection for those with a history of knee issues.
Shoulder injuries are not uncommon in pickleball, particularly for those who frequently engage in overhead shots.
The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint, is particularly susceptible to injury. Rotator cuff tears and shoulder impingement, which occurs when the rotator cuff becomes pinched between the bones of the shoulder, are two common shoulder injuries.
To avoid shoulder injuries, players should focus on strengthening their shoulder muscles through resistance exercises, such as lateral raises and external rotations.
Additionally, practicing proper technique when executing overhead shots can help reduce strain on the shoulder joint.
Pickleball elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow, is an overuse injury that affects the tendons in the forearm. It is caused by repetitive stress on the extensor tendons, leading to pain and inflammation at the outer elbow.
Medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, affects the tendons on the inner side of the elbow and is also a common pickleball injury.
To prevent elbow injuries, players should focus on developing proper technique and using appropriate equipment, such as lighter paddles with a larger grip size.
Regularly performing forearm-strengthening exercises can also help reduce the risk of elbow injuries. If pain or discomfort occurs during play, players should consider taking a break to allow their body time to recover.
Wrist and Hand Injuries
Wrist and hand injuries are also common among pickleball players, particularly sprains, fractures, and tendinitis. These injuries can result from awkward landings, overuse, or incorrect grip technique.
To minimize the risk of wrist and hand injuries, players should focus on maintaining a relaxed grip on the paddle and avoid over-gripping, which can place undue stress on the wrist and hand muscles.
Incorporating wrist and hand strengthening exercises into a regular fitness routine can also help build resilience against these common injuries.
Wearing wrist supports or braces can provide additional protection and support for those with a history of wrist issues.
Muscle and Tendon Injuries
Pickleball players often experience muscle and tendon injuries due to overuse or inadequate warm-up and cool-down routines.
Hamstring strains, calf strains, and tendinitis of the achilles tendon are some examples of such injuries. These issues can result in pain, swelling, and limited mobility.
To prevent muscle and tendon injuries, players should engage in proper warm-up and cool-down exercises, focusing on dynamic stretching before playing and static stretching afterwards.
Foam rolling can also help release tight muscles and improve flexibility. Strengthening exercises targeting the leg muscles, particularly the hamstrings and calves, can help protect against muscle strains.
Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down Techniques
So many injuries can be prevented! A well-rounded warm-up and cool-down routine is essential for injury prevention.
Prior to playing pickleball, engage in dynamic stretching to increase blood flow, activate the muscles, and improve range of motion.
Post-play, perform static stretching to help relax the muscles, improve flexibility, and aid in recovery.
Foam rolling can be incorporated into the cool-down routine to alleviate muscle tightness and promote recovery.
Tips for Preventing Pickleball Related Injuries
- Invest in proper equipment, including footwear and paddles, to ensure optimal support and performance.
- Pace yourself and take breaks when needed to avoid overuse injuries.
- Stay hydrated to maintain proper muscle function and prevent cramping.
- Listen to your body and consult a medical professional if you experience pain or discomfort during play.
For more tips on how to prepare to play and avoid injury, check out the USA Pickleball Association website!
Understanding and addressing the most common pickleball injuries is crucial for players who want to continue enjoying the sport without risking long-term damage.
By investing in the appropriate equipment, maintaining proper technique, and engaging in targeted warm-up and cool-down routines, players can significantly reduce their risk of injury.
If you do experience pain or discomfort while playing pickleball, seek advice from a medical professional to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Stay safe and have fun on the court!