Pickleball Injuries: How to Stay in the Game Safely

Pickleball is an increasingly popular sport enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. However, like any physical activity, pickleball carries the risk of injury.

This article will discuss some common injuries associated with pickleball, the reasons behind these injuries, and, most importantly, how to prevent them. We will also provide guidance on what to do if you find yourself injured during a pickleball game.

If you experience a sports injury while playing pickleball, contact our expert orthopedic surgeons at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. We look forward to caring for patients in our Marietta and Atlanta, GA offices. Schedule your appointment today!

A player trying to avoid a pickleball injury in Atlanta, Georgia.

What Are Some Common Pickleball Injuries?

Pickleball players are susceptible to various lower and upper extremity injuries, including overuse injuries, strains, sprains, and fractures. Some of the most common pickleball injuries include the following:

  • Achilles Tendon Strains: The rapid movements and quick changes in direction during pickleball can strain the Achilles tendon, leading to pain and limited mobility.
  • Ankle Sprains: The frequent side-to-side movements and pivoting in pickleball increase the risk of ankle sprains, which can occur when the foot twists or rolls unnaturally.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Pickleball does not include an overhead serve, a cause for many shoulder injuries in tennis. However, the swinging motion involved in hitting the ball can cause rotator cuff injuries, resulting in shoulder pain and limited range of motion.
  • Pickleball Elbow: Similar to tennis elbow, pickleball elbow is an overuse injury that causes pain and inflammation in the tendons of the forearm muscles, usually due to repetitive swinging motions.
  • Wrist Fractures: Falling on an outstretched hand during a game can lead to wrist fractures, which require immediate medical attention.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: Chronic injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, can occur with repetitive pounding on the hard surface.

Reasons for Pickleball Injuries

Understanding the reasons behind pickleball injuries can help you take proactive steps to prevent them. Some common reasons for getting a pickleball injury include:

  • Overuse: Engaging in intense pickleball games without adequate rest and recovery can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendonitis and muscle strains.
  • Improper Technique: Incorrect form and technique while hitting the ball or executing movements can place excessive stress on your joints and muscles, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Inadequate Warm-up: Failing to warm up properly before playing pickleball can prevent your muscles from being adequately prepared for the demands of the game, making you more susceptible to injuries.
  • Inappropriate Equipment: Wearing improper footwear or using a paddle that is too heavy or too light for your skill level and playing style can contribute to injuries.

How Can I Prevent a Pickleball Injury?

Prevention is always better than cure. Injury prevention includes paying attention to your physical condition. By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of pickleball injuries:

  1. Proper Warm-up: Before hitting the court, spend at least 10 minutes engaging in dynamic stretches and light cardio exercises to increase blood flow and warm up your muscles.
  2. Learn Proper Technique: Work with a qualified coach or instructor to learn the correct techniques for serving, hitting, and moving on the court. This will help minimize the strain on your body.
  3. Use Appropriate Equipment: Invest in a good pair of court shoes that provide stability and support for lateral movements. Additionally, choose a paddle that suits your skill level and style of play.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during the game. If something doesn’t feel right, take a break and rest. Pushing through the pain can lead to more severe injuries.
  5. Cross-Train and Strengthen: Engaging in regular strength and conditioning exercises can help improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injuries. Focus on exercises that target the muscles used in pickleball, such as shoulder exercises for rotator cuff strength and lower body exercises for stability and balance.
  6. Gradual Progression: Avoid jumping into intense pickleball games without gradually building up your endurance and skill level. Start with shorter playing sessions and gradually increase the intensity and duration.

What to Do When Injured While Playing Pickleball

Despite our best efforts, injuries can still occur. If you sustain a pickleball injury, it’s important to take appropriate steps for a safe and speedy recovery. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Stop Playing: If you experience pain or discomfort during a game, stop playing immediately. Continuing to play can worsen the injury.
  2. RICE Method: For acute injuries like sprains or strains, remember the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest the injured area, apply ice wrapped in a towel, use a compression bandage to reduce swelling, and elevate the injured limb.
  3. Seek Medical Attention: If the pain is severe, the injury does not improve within a few days, or you suspect a fracture, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Contact your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
  4. Follow Rehabilitation: If your injury requires physical therapy, adhere to the recommended rehabilitation exercises and protocols. Physical therapy can help restore strength, flexibility, and function to the injured area.

Remember, each injury is unique, and treatment plans may vary. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider, such as Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific condition.

Get Orthopedic Help for Your Pickleball Injury

While pickleball is a fun and engaging sport, it’s important to be aware of the potential injuries associated with it. By taking preventive measures, such as using proper technique, warming up adequately, and using appropriate equipment, you can minimize the risk of pickleball injuries.

However, if an injury does occur, it’s crucial to seek appropriate medical attention and follow the recommended treatment plan. Remember, staying safe and healthy allows you to continue enjoying the game for years to come.

If you happen to experience a pickleball injury, contact the expert orthopedic surgeons at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. We have locations in Marietta and Atlanta, GA for your convenience. Call us now or schedule your visit online today!

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