As the fastest-growing sport in America, pickleball has taken over tennis courts by storm, with lowered nets and repainted lines to accommodate the growing number of “picklers”. Pickler is the given name to those who make pickleball their game of choice, and the game is recruiting more and more players every day.
Common Injuries in Pickleball
- Ankle Sprain: The majority of all ankle sprains will heal without the need for surgery. Even a complete ligament tear will heal naturally if given the appropriate rest. Rest and protection of the ankle are the initial recommendations for a sprained ankle.
- Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that occurs when the large tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg becomes irritated and inflamed. Tendons, unlike bone, can’t repair themselves. After tendons are torn, they create a “scar-like” attempt to repair themselves and that tissue does not have the same properties as the original tendon in terms of strength and elasticity.
- Hamstring or quadriceps muscle strain: Pain, swelling, and muscle spasms are all usual symptoms of a strain, but they can usually be treated at home. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation, as well as protection of the injury, are all recommended at-home treatments.
- Shoulder Impingement: Shoulder impingement, also known as rotator cuff tendonitis, occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become compressed against the shoulder blade. Often caused by overuse of the shoulder, this condition is common in athletes. Patients usually experience swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder, pain, and stiffness when raising the arm, loss of strength or range of motion, and difficulty doing everyday activities.
- Wrist fracture: It may not always be obvious that you have a wrist fracture. If pain in your wrist has not subsided within a day, this may be a sign of a fracture. It is important to see a doctor if pain persists in order to avoid further complications.
Some of these injuries will put your game on hold for a time, but others can be game-ending. If you’re considering adding pickleball to your activity routine, here is what you need to know to keep you on the court with your fellow picklers.
How to Avoid Pickleball Injuries
- Wear Proper Shoes: It cannot be stressed enough that proper footwear is very important. The best shoes to wear for pickleball are court shoes or tennis shoes. Choose shoes that are comfortable with grip and ankle support, and that have rubber soles with a tread pattern conducive to quick lateral movements. Also, keep in mind that your shoes have an expiration date. Pickleball shoes should be replaced after about 60 hours of play or every three or four months.
- Conditioning: Improving your strength and endurance will help injury prevention, and can improve your overall performance on the court. There are a variety of exercises you can do to improve in this area. For a full-body workout, choose exercises that include balance, mobility, flexibility, strength, endurance, and focus. Cross training with different activities will prepare your body for the variety of anaerobic movements pickleball requires.
In this video shoulder specialist, Dr. Scott Jacobson, reviews the best shoulder exercises and stretches for optimal health.
- Warm Up: Pickleball is no different than any other physical activity when it comes to the importance of a proper warm up. Start with dynamic stretching such as gentle twists, lunges, hip circles and bends to gently loosen the back, hips, arms, and legs. Listen to your body and pay special attention to any areas that seem particularly tight. Getting in a brief jog or a few short sprints up and down the court will help elevate your heart rate and prepare your body for action.
- Recovery Time: Pickleball can be addicting, many picklers play multiple times in one week. Adequate recovery time is always suggested, especially if your body is feeling extra fatigued or you are experiencing a minor injury. A good rule of thumb is to practiceI.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Be careful to not push past your limit and know when your body is telling you to take an extended rest period.
TREATMENT FOR PICKLEBALL INJURIES
For injuries that are more serious, call The Center and make an appointment to speak with one of our orthopedic specialists.