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Types of Pickleball Injuries and Ways To Prevent Them

Pickleball's popularity has soared in recent years. This fun and social sport offers a great way to stay active, but like any physical activity, it comes with a risk of injury. Understanding common pickleball injuries and how to prevent them can keep you on the court and enjoying the game.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Played on a badminton-sized court with paddles and a perforated plastic ball, pickleball can be enjoyed as singles or doubles. While less physically demanding than tennis, pickleball still requires quick bursts of speed, agility, and overhead movements.

Types of Pickleball Injuries

While generally considered low-impact, pickleball can lead to injuries. Here are some of the most common pickleball injuries:

  • Ankle sprains: These occur due to sudden changes in direction or rolling your ankle. To prevent ankle sprains, choose court shoes with good ankle support and traction. Be mindful of your footwork, focusing on smooth transitions and avoiding jerky movements.
  • Wrist and elbow pain: Caused by repetitive gripping of the paddle and forceful swings. This can lead to conditions like pickleball elbow (similar to tennis elbow) and tendinitis. To prevent these, use a paddle with a comfortable grip size and wrist strap for added support. Loosen your grip on the paddle between strokes. Pay attention to your swing mechanics and avoid excessive wrist flexion. Strengthening your forearm muscles can also help.
  • Knee strains: Quick stops, lunges, and pivoting movements can strain the knee ligaments, particularly the ACL and MCL. To prevent knee strains, ensure proper warm-up and cool-down routines that target your leg muscles. Maintain good posture while playing and bend your knees to absorb impact. Strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves can improve knee stability.
  • Rotator cuff injuries: These involve the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint and can be caused by forceful overhead strokes, especially serves. To prevent rotator cuff injuries, focus on proper serving technique and avoid jerky motions. Stretching and strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff muscles are important.
  • Muscle soreness and overuse injuries: These are common, especially for new players, due to unaccustomed movements and exertion. Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your play as your fitness improves. Consider incorporating exercises that target the muscle groups used in pickleball to improve your strength and endurance.

Ways To Prevent Pickleball Injuries

Following these pickleball injury prevention tips can significantly reduce your risk of injury:

  • Proper warm-up and cool-down: A 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up with light cardio and stretches prepares your muscles for activity. Cool down with static stretches after playing.
  • Use the right equipment: Well-fitting, supportive shoes with good court traction are essential. Choose a paddle with a comfortable grip size for your hand. Also, using proper support gear such as ankle brace, wrist brace, etc., can help you to stay safe on the court.
  • Listen to your body: Don't push yourself too hard, especially when starting. Take breaks when needed and avoid playing through pain.
  • Maintain proper form: Focus on proper footwork, stroke mechanics, and body positioning to avoid unnecessary strain on your joints.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after play to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps.
  • Strength and conditioning: Regular exercises that strengthen core muscles, legs, and upper body can improve your stability and power, reducing injury risk.
  • Know your limits: Be honest about your fitness level and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your play.

Final Thought

By incorporating these pickleball injury prevention tips into your pickleball routine, you can minimize your risk of pickleball injuries and keep enjoying this exciting sport for years to come. Remember, consulting a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on injury prevention is always recommended, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.