Guide to Pickleball Injuries
and How to Prevent Them
Maintaining physical activity has numerous physical and mental health benefits, and pickleball is an exciting way to do it. Pickleball is an engaging sport whose popularity in the U.S has grown over the years. Like any other racket-handling sport, pickleball has its fair share of injuries. Both novice and seasoned pickleball players are at risk of the occasional fall, bruise, or scrape.
There are, however, serious injuries that are potentially career-ending or incapacitating. The most typical pickleball injuries are overuse injuries that develop over time due to repetitive motions. Here is an overview of the most common pickleball injuries and the measures you can take to prevent them
What Are the Common Pickleball Injuries?
Pickleball Shoulder Injury
General shoulder strain or pain arises from an injury to the rotator cuff muscles. This common pickleball injury affects the group of muscles forming the primary supportive structure of the shoulder joint. Overhead swings and overextension of the shoulder joint when serving or returning a serve are common causes of shoulder strain.
Pickleball players presenting with reduced range of motion, pain, swelling, or bruising around the shoulder joint need to get checked out. The shoulder’s sudden severe damage is rare, but stretching and partial tearing can happen over time.
Pickleball Tennis Elbow
Pickleball tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is a typical overuse pickleball injury. Repeated swinging and raising of a pickleball bat predispose players to mild elbow strain over time. Microtears to the elbow tendons may arise from performing repetitive motions with improper form, training, and gear.
Players with a pickleball elbow injury may report discomfort in the elbow that worsens with movement. They also present with joint stiffness and aches or soreness around the elbow.
Pickleball Achilles Tendinitis
The Achilles tendon is a group of connective tissue that connects the heel to the calf. Repeated high-impact exercise like in outdoor pickleball tournaments stresses the lower leg area. In extreme cases, pickleball players develop Achilles tendinitis that features multiple tears to the Achilles tendon.
The most common tears can happen either at the point of insertion to the heel or can be non-insertional (in the middle of the tendon). Regardless of the point of injury, these pickleball players report stiffness in the calf or heel area and thickening or inflammation around the tendon. They may also complain of pain to the middle or lower calf that worsens with activity and closely resembles pickleball calf injury.
Pickleball Heel Bruising
Heel bruising is a fairly typical pickleball injury that gradually develops with time. Repetitive or strenuous impact to the pad of fat around the heel causes internal bruising. In some instances, the heel bone ends up being bruised. The major symptom is heel pain while walking or on applying pressure.
Pickleball Knee Injury
Pickleball knee injuries occur when players hyperextend or suddenly twist their knee joint. This injury commonly happens during pivoting movement that involves a change in direction. Repetitive knee strain overworks and damages the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the knee. The medial collateral ligament is most often affected. Affected players present with knee inflammation of the knee joint and pain that increases with motion.
Pickleball Hamstring Injury
Pickleball players are at risk of hyperextending the leg when reaching for a ball in front of them. Poorly conditioned and fatigued hamstrings may strain or tear from hyperextension. Hamstring pain starts from the back of the thigh to the point of origin near the pelvis. Then, the pain moves down to the outer part of the tibia.
Pickleball Injury Prevention
Players don’t have to limit themselves to pickleball as their only physical activity. Regular exercise helps protect vulnerable body parts such as the ankles, elbows, shoulders, and knees. Leg strengthening exercises help the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles support the knee joint effectively. Maintaining proper upper body strength lowers the risk of a shoulder injury. Core exercises that focus on abdominal muscles minimize back strain while playing.
Warm Up, Stretch, and Rest
Players need to warm up and stretch before any physical activity. A brisk 10 to 15-minute walk or a light jog is a great way to warm up muscle fibers. After warming up, players can proceed to stretch any tightened muscle, lowering the risk of strains or joint sprains.
Participants can focus on stretching the hamstring, quadriceps, hip flexors, and glutes in the lower body. Also, don’t neglect stretching the shoulder, elbow, and knee joint. After a match or excessive training, players need to listen to their bodies for signs of fatigue. Soreness is expected after strenuous play, but not pain. The soreness often resolves after some rest.
Using Muscle MX Activate CBD balm is an excellent way to warm up muscles, tendons, and joints before a workout. The topical application helps prevent injury and ensures peak performance during pickleball matches. To help with recovery, pickleball players can apply Muscle MX Recovery cooling CBD balm. This ultra-cooling topical application is engineered to assist in recovery after intense physical activity.
Outdoor pickleball often happens under warm weather and plenty of sunshine. Players need to properly hydrate before and during matches by drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water. Taking water with electrolytes helps replace the water and salt content lost during the game. Dehydration may present with dizziness and lack of coordination, resulting in a fall or other injury.
Wear the Right Footwear
Most ankle sprains and meniscal tears are preventable with the appropriate pickleball shoes. Ankle sprains commonly occur when the knee twists or rolls. Meniscal or knee ligament tears happen during sudden changes in direction or shot-stopping. The right shoes offer enough support to prevent these injuries. Pickleball court shoes are one of the most vital pieces of gear in a pickleball player’s arsenal.
Protect the Eyes
Protective eye gear safeguards pickleball players’ eyes from flying balls and wayward paddles. Potential eye injuries like bruises, cuts, retinal detachment, and eye inflammation can occur without the proper eyewear. Severe eye injuries can result in complete blindness.