Major Injuries While Playing Pickleball and How to Avoid Them

Common Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport enjoyed by people of all ages. While it is generally considered low-impact compared to other racquet sports, injuries can still occur. Understanding common injuries and how to prevent them is crucial for new and experienced players.

1. Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in pickleball. These occur when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn, usually due to a sudden twist or turn. The quick lateral movements in pickleball make the ankles particularly vulnerable.

Players should invest in high-quality court shoes to avoid ankle sprains that provide excellent support and stability. Strengthening exercises for the ankles, such as toe raises and ankle circles, can also help. Additionally, warming up properly before playing and being mindful of the playing surface can reduce the risk of ankle sprains.

2. Knee Injuries

Knee injuries, including strains and tears of the meniscus or ligaments (like the ACL), are common in pickleball. The rapid changes in direction and quick stops can put a lot of stress on the knees.

Preventing knee injuries involves strengthening the muscles around the knee, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Players should incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, and leg presses into their fitness routine. Wearing a knee brace can also provide additional support. Ensuring proper technique when moving on the court and avoiding sudden, sharp movements can significantly reduce the risk. For more information on knee injury prevention, visit this knee health resource.

3. Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries, especially rotator cuff injuries, are also prevalent in pickleball. The repetitive overhead motions required for serving and smashing can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons.

To prevent shoulder injuries, players should strengthen their shoulder muscles through exercises like shoulder presses, lateral raises, and internal and external rotations. Stretching the shoulder muscles before and after playing is also crucial. Learning proper serving techniques and avoiding overuse by taking breaks can help maintain shoulder health.

4. Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. It is often caused by repetitive motion, such as hitting the ball in pickleball.

To prevent tennis elbow, players should ensure they use the correct grip size for their paddle and avoid gripping too tightly. Strengthening the forearm muscles through exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls can also help. Proper hitting techniques and not overplaying can also prevent the condition.

5. Wrist Strains

Wrist strains are common due to the repetitive wrist movements in pickleball. These can cause pain and swelling, making it difficult to play.

Players should practice proper wrist techniques to avoid wrist strains, such as not flicking the wrist excessively during shots. Strengthening exercises for the wrist, like wrist curls and extensions, can improve wrist stability. Wearing a wrist brace for additional support and ensuring the paddle is not too heavy can also help.

6. Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can result from the bending and twisting motions in pickleball. Poor posture and weak core muscles can exacerbate this issue.

Preventing lower back pain involves strengthening the core muscles through exercises like planks, bridges, and leg raises. Players should also maintain proper posture during play and avoid bending from the waist. Stretching the back muscles before and after playing can alleviate tension.

7. Achilles Tendon Injuries

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and can be strained or torn due to the sudden stops and starts in pickleball.

Players should incorporate calf stretches and strengthening exercises like heel raises into their routine to prevent Achilles tendon injuries. Wearing supportive footwear and gradually increasing the intensity of play can also help. Proper warm-up and cool-down routines are essential to maintain tendon flexibility.

8. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, causing heel pain. This condition is common in sports that involve a lot of running and jumping.

To avoid plantar fasciitis, players should wear shoes with good arch support and cushioning. Stretching the calves and feet before and after playing can help maintain flexibility. Rolling a tennis ball under the foot can also alleviate tension in the plantar fascia. For more tips on preventing plantar fasciitis, visit this foot health resource.

9. Hamstring Strains

Hamstring strains occur when the muscles in the back of the thigh are overstretched or torn. This can happen during the quick sprints and lunges in pickleball.

Players should include hamstring-strengthening exercises like leg curls and deadlifts in their workout routine to prevent hamstring strains. Stretching the hamstrings regularly is also crucial. Proper warm-up exercises, such as dynamic stretches and light jogging, can prepare the muscles for intense activity.

10. Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can occur from being hit by the ball or paddle. These injuries can range from minor bruises to more serious damage like retinal detachment.

Wearing protective eyewear for racquet sports is the best way to prevent eye injuries. Players should also stay alert and maintain proper spacing from their partners to avoid accidental hits. Understanding and practicing proper safety protocols on the court can further reduce the risk of eye injuries.

While pickleball is an enjoyable and accessible sport, it’s important to be aware of the potential injuries and take proactive steps to prevent them. By following proper techniques, wearing appropriate gear, and incorporating specific exercises into your routine, you can minimize the risk of injuries and enjoy the game safely.

Remember, staying injury-free allows you to play longer and better, enhancing both your performance and enjoyment of the sport. So, take the time to prepare your body and mind for the demands of pickleball, and you’ll reap the rewards on the court.

For personalized guidance and to improve your skills, consider taking a lesson with a certified coach. Contact Certified Coach Igor for a private lesson to learn proper return techniques and elevate your pickleball game.

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