Pickleball injuries

Pickleball injuries and prevention

Pickleball, a lively hybrid of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has rapidly gained popularity. Its low-impact nature and the camaraderie it fosters makes it particularly appealing to older adults. However, despite its generally safe reputation, pickleball players are not immune to sports injuries. Here, we’ll unpack the most common pickleball injuries and share strategies to keep you off the sidelines and on the court.

Ankle Sprains and How to Handle Them

Quick turns and pivots in pickleball can sometimes lead to ankle sprains. If your sprain is severe, it might be hard to stand or walk. In such cases, using crutches or an ankle brace can be helpful. To recover, remember to rest, apply ice, compress the area, and keep your foot elevated (This is commonly known as the RICE method). Although recovery might take a few weeks, following the right steps will have you back in the game soon.

Achilles Tendon Injuries

In the heat of a pickleball game, you might strain your Achilles tendon. This injury can cause pain and take a few weeks to heal. Treatment includes rest, gentle stretching, and special exercises. However, a more severe and rare injury, like an Achilles tendon rupture, could require surgery and should be evaluated by a doctor promptly.

Knee Injuries and Their Treatment

Knee injuries are also common in racquet sports, and pickleball players are no exception. A sudden start, stop, or pivot can result in a knee sprain, causing pain and difficulty in weight bearing. In more severe cases, it could lead to meniscus tears, which might result in significant swelling and decreased range of motion. From resting and bracing to physical therapy and potential surgical repair, treatment depends on the severity of the injury.

Muscle Strains

Certain muscle groups in the lower body, including the hamstring muscles, quadriceps, hip flexors and adductors, and calf muscles, can be strained during a game. These strains might present as pain when the muscle is stretched or contracted. Mild strains usually recover well with the RICE method and should heal in a few weeks. Severe strains might require physical therapy and will take longer to recover.

Upper Extremity Injuries

Lastly, it’s not just the lower body that’s at risk for Pickleball injuries. The wrist, elbow, and shoulder can also get injured, particularly through falls. Initial treatment of minor injuries could be handled with the RICE method. However, if you notice significant swelling, bruising, or limited range of motion, it’s time to visit a doctor.

Remember, this guide is a starting point. Always consult with a healthcare professional for any injury concerns.

Chronic Pickleball Injuries

Chronic injuries are those that develop over time due to repetitive actions or strain. Pickleball injuries could stem from repeated impact on the hard court surface. Let’s explore these injuries and how to prevent them.

Foot Issues: From Plantar Fasciitis to Blisters

Playing pickleball can lead to foot issues like plantar fasciitis and heel contusions. Plantar fasciitis happens when the band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot gets irritated. The usual remedies include changing your activity, stretching, foot exercises, and possibly using orthotics or heel cups.

Heel contusions, or bruises on your heel, can be managed with rest and using special padding or altering your footwear. Blisters, a common issue with prolonged use of ill-fitting shoes, can be avoided by ensuring your shoes fit well and are appropriate for the sport.

Muscle Strains: A Gradual Pain

Strains in your calf, hamstring, quadriceps, or groin might appear suddenly or slowly over time. If you notice persistent soreness in these areas, focus on stretching the affected muscle and take a break from activities that make it worse.

Back Injuries: Prevention is Key

Lumbar muscle strains are often associated with the forward bending and repetitive trunk rotation involved in pickleball. Just as with other muscles, the RICE method is the first step in managing these strains. To avoid such injuries, focus on strengthening your core and increasing lower body flexibility. If your back pain persists, it might be worth getting an MRI or other imaging done to rule out more serious injuries.

Hand and Elbow Injuries: Watch Your Form

Over time, repetitive ball striking can lead to tendon strains in your wrist or elbow injuries. You can avoid these by making sure you’re using the correct form when you strike the ball. If you do get injured, resting, stretching, gentle resistance exercises, and possibly using a brace can help you heal.

Shoulder Strains: Less Common But Still Important

Although underhand play in pickleball makes shoulder injuries less common, they can still occur, especially with overhand shots or reaching for the ball. Resting and doing stabilization and range of motion exercises can help heal these injuries and get you back to playing. If your symptoms persist, consider seeing a physical therapist who can help you regain your strength and mobility.

In all cases, it’s important to remember to seek professional advice if your pain persists or worsens over time. Your health is paramount! Pickleball injuries need not keep you out of the game for long.