Common Pickleball Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Pickleball is a hybrid sport that features elements from tennis, ping pong and badminton. It’s also an enjoyable way to maintain or improve fitness. If you are looking for a new way to work up a sweat, you might want to give pickleball a try.
The sport is mainly played outdoors, like tennis, but the court is much smaller. Tennis courts are 120 feet long and 60 feet wide, and pickleball courts are about a quarter the size. This makes pickleball less physically demanding than tennis, but the sport still offers a great workout.
Pickleball Injuries on the Rise
According to the National Institutes of Health, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States.
Emergency rooms are seeing more and more pickleball injuries, but it’s not because the sport is inherently dangerous. It’s because the sport is gaining in popularity and far more people are playing it.
The pickleball sport is also played by an older demographic than other racquet sports, and we become more vulnerable to sprains, strains and pulls as the years go by. When doctors treat serious pickleball injuries, it is usually because a player fell while trying to make a difficult shot.
The vast majority of pickleball injuries are minor in nature, and they are usually caused by overexertion or repetitive motions.
The next section explores common pickleball injuries followed by pickleball injury prevention measures you can take.
Pickleball is popular because it is easy to pick up and fun to play, and these are also the reasons why so many new players suffer minor injuries. New players tend to overdo it because they are having such a great time, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries like pickleball elbow.
Swinging a pickleball paddle puts a small amount of stress on the elbow, which is not usually something to worry about.
Unfortunately, this stress builds up over time, and it can damage tendons in the elbow when new players overexert themselves or seasoned players push through their comfort zones. The symptoms of pickleball elbow are soreness, stiffness and pain that gets worse when the elbow is moved.
A rigorous pickleball session puts strain on the tendons in the wrist as well as the elbow. This can lead to wrist tendonitis, which is caused by repetitive stress to the six tendons that control the fingers and hand.
Racquet sports players suffer this injury when they play for long periods before they have built up muscle memory, so taking it easy until you get the hang of things is the best way to stay pain-free.
If you find opening jars or turning doorknobs difficult after a pickleball session, you may have a case of wrist tendonitis.
In addition, a pickleball wrist brace or splint can help with wrist injuries. They are used by pickleball payers to prevent injuries that can happen during a fall. Likewise, they stabilize wrists and provide them support during sessions.
Like all racquet sports, pickleball involves a lot of turning, pivoting and rapid starts and stops. This puts a great deal of stress on the knee, which can lead to injuries. The anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments stabilize the knee, and they can be damaged by twisting and turning.
Symptoms of pickleball knee injuries include swelling and pain when pressure is put on the affected joint.
Older players who suffer from arthritis are particularly vulnerable to these injuries. Fortunately, they can reduce their chances of getting hurt by wearing knee braces and compression socks to provide additional support and improve blood circulation.
Pickleball players who play the game every day sometimes feel discomfort when they walk. This is often because the pad of fat that protects the heel is inflamed, damaged, low or even missing altogether. Wearing quality athletic shoes is the best way to prevent bruised heels, and proper rest is the best cure.
This injury is called a bruise because it can turn the skin on the heel blue and purple, which is caused by bleeding beneath the skin. If walking is especially painful after a pickleball game, the heel bone could also be bruised.
Pickleball Stretches to Prevent Injury
Pickleball is incredibly good fun. As such, you may be tempted to overdo it right away when you give the sport a try. If you want your fun to last, you should try to temper your enthusiasm and take a few minutes to warm up before you hit your first serve.
Stretching improves blood flow and prepares your muscles for the workout to come, and just a few minutes of it can significantly reduce your chances of suffering a pickleball injury. It’s a good idea to stretch all of your muscles before engaging in strenuous activities.
There are a few stretches that are especially good for preventing the strains, sprains and tears commonly associated with pickleball that we’ve listed for you here.
Hip Mobility Stretches
Hip injuries can be extremely painful, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. Pickleball involves a lot of twisting and turning, so it’s a good idea to loosen up the hips before you start playing.
Performing lunges is an excellent way to stretch the hips, but controlled articular rotations work even better.
This stretch is performed standing, but you will need to hold onto a post or railing for support. Raise your knees one at a time and move them through the hip joint’s full range of motion. Keep your hips square the whole time, and try not to compensate to make the movement easier.
A minute, or two of stretching should be enough to prevent injuries like wrist tendonitis. There are several ways to stretch the wrists, but flexor stretches are the most effective for preventing pickleball injuries.
To perform this stretch, extend one of your arms with the palm facing upward, and then bend your wrist toward the ground. Use your other hand to apply gentle pressure on the wrist until you feel your forearm muscles stretch, and then hold this position for about 20 seconds.
If you only stretch one part of your body before a pickleball game, make sure that it is your knees.
Knee injuries are extremely painful, and they take a long time to heal. If you want to know how to prevent knee injuries, this section is for you. It’s simple: to avoid days or weeks of limping and pain, perform a few knee stretches before you pick up a paddle.
To do this, lie on your back with your legs bent. Then, place one of your ankles on the thigh of the other leg.
Once you are in this position, place your hands under the leg supporting the ankle and pull it gently toward your chest until it is pointing straight up. You only have to hold this position for about five seconds, but you should perform at least 10 repetitions.
Standing Trunk Rotations
Standing trunk rotations are incredibly easy to perform, and they can improve balance and prevent lower back strains and injuries.
To perform this simple stretch, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms out in front of you with one hand on top of the other.
With your arms still outstretched, gently rotate your torso. Rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise, and perform two sets of 10 repetitions.
Proper Pickleball Technique
Bad habits are easy to fall into and very hard to break. When the bad habit is poor form while playing sports, injuries are the inevitable result. One of the most common mistakes novice pickleball players make is relying too much on their arms and shoulders to generate power.
Racquet sports players, boxers and baseball hitters get most of their power from their hips and legs, but the proper technique does not always feel intuitive.
If your pickleball shots lack power and your arms and shoulders feel sore after a game, consider taking a few lessons to improve your technique.
Compression Socks for the Win
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country because it is easy to learn and fun to play. Sports injuries like pickleball elbow and wrist tendinitis are usually caused by pushing our bodies just a little too far, which is easy to do when we are really enjoying ourselves.
To avoid pickleball injuries, warm up thoroughly before every game and use proper form. You can also reduce your chances of spending time on the sidelines by wearing compression socks that improve circulation and boost performance.
True Energy offers a wide range of compression socks for both men and women, and all of them feature infrared technology that was developed by NASA for plant growth experiments in zero gravity. If you have questions about the ways our socks can help to prevent pickleball injuries, you can call us at (800) 395-4290 or fill out our online form.