Pickleball: How to Avoid Injuries in America’s Favorite New SportNovember 22, 2023
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. It is a sport that incorporates components of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. It is very popular because it is fun to play and enables individuals of variable athletic abilities to play together. Whether you are a novice or advanced player, pickleball is a great way to stay active and enjoy a competitive sport.
Personally, I love pickleball and enjoy playing with family and friends. In fact, my husband proposed on the pickleball courts! I have played on our local courts and competed in several pickleball tournaments. It is exciting to see how the community has come together to enjoy this sport and the fellowship that continues off the court.
However, pickleball does not come without a level of risk. Common injuries in pickleball include:
- Sprains and strains from repetitive play
- Lateral epicondylitis
- Rotator cuff strain at the shoulder
- Wrist sprains
- Achilles tendonitis
- Knee or hip pain
- An occasional fracture due to a fall
Injuries happen most when an individual is poorly warmed up to play or after the onset of fatigue (for example, after playing > 1-2 hours).
Ways to Prevent Pickleball Injuries
Nevertheless, there are certain measures you can take to prevent injury when playing pickleball and your physical therapist can help you stay healthy and active. Recommendations include:
- Warm-up well before play, dinking the ball back and forth and progressing towards longer, more powerful shots as your body warms up.
- Finish the play with gentle stretches to cool down
- Hip flexor stretch
- Calf stretch
- Shoulder and forearm stretches
- Train your hips, knees, and ankles to tolerate the side-to-side motions, squats, pivoting, and stepping required to play pickleball. If you are new to pickleball, it is very important to ease into these movements. Training may include performing squats, side lunges, and split squats to train your hips and knees to move through a variety of positions.
- Wear court shoes, as they provide stability and give you smooth and efficient weight transfers while playing pickleball.
- Stay hydrated and eat nutritious food to give you the fuel you need to play!
Want more injury prevention tips? Read Injury Prevention 101: General Tips to Stay Pain-Free, Psychologically Coming Back from a Major Injury, or How to Increase Mid-Back Movement and Reduce Shoulder Pain with these 2 Exercises.
Most minor sprains and strains can be treated with R.I.C.E.
Most individuals with a minor sprain or strain can return to playing pickleball in 2-3 weeks. If pain and dysfunction persist or keep you from playing pickleball, contact your physical therapist to help improve your range of motion, strength, and muscle coordination to get you back on to the pickleball courts as soon as possible!