Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis, has surged in popularity over the years. Whether you’re a seasoned player or someone who’s recently taken up the paddle, the health benefits and social nature of the game are undeniable. However, like any sport, pickleball is not without its risks.
At Manhattan Sports Therapy, we often help patients recover from sports-related injuries, including those incurred during a spirited game of pickleball. Here, we shine a light on the top three most common pickleball injuries and offer tips to help you play safely.
#1 Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Yes, the name might say ‘tennis’, but tennis elbow is not exclusive to tennis players. This injury affects the outer elbow and is caused by repetitive use and strain on the forearm muscles and tendons.
- Pain and tenderness on the outer elbow
- Stiffness in the morning
- Weak grip strength
Ensure proper paddle grip and technique. A too-tight grip or improper swing can exacerbate the problem. Strengthen the forearm muscles with exercises such as wrist curls and extensions.
Always warm up before playing and consider using an elbow brace for support.
#2 Achilles Tendonitis
The quick stops and starts, coupled with the forward and lateral movements of pickleball, can strain the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.
- Pain above the heel or in the back of the leg
- Swelling in the Achilles tendon area
- Difficulty flexing the foot or pointing the toes
Ensure you’re wearing appropriate shoes that offer good support and cushioning. Stretch your calf muscles regularly to increase flexibility. Gradually increase the intensity of your game. Don’t go full throttle if you’re new or returning after a break.
#3 Ankle Sprains
The swift side-to-side movements and the occasional misstep on the court can lead to rolled or twisted ankles, resulting in sprains.
- Pain, especially when bearing weight on the affected ankle
- Swelling and bruising
- Limited range of motion
Work on improving balance and agility with exercises such as single-leg stands or ladder drills. Wear shoes that offer ankle support. Be aware of the court’s surface and any potential tripping hazards.
Staying Safe and Enjoying the Game
Pickleball is an exhilarating sport, but it’s essential to recognize and respect its physical demands. Proper training, equipment, and awareness can go a long way in preventing injuries. However, if you do experience pain or an injury, it’s crucial to seek professional advice and care.
At Manhattan Sports Therapy, we’re dedicated to helping athletes of all levels maintain their health and recover from injuries. Our team understands the specific demands and challenges associated with various sports, including pickleball. If you ever find yourself needing guidance or therapy, know that we’re here to help you get back on the court safely.
Remember, the best way to enjoy pickleball is to play safely. Prioritize your health, and the game becomes even more rewarding.