A Simple Guide to Preventing Injuries While Playing Pickleball

A Simple Guide to Preventing Injuries While Playing Pickleball

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has been rapidly growing in popularity. It’s a fun, social, and accessible game that players of all ages can enjoy. However, like any sport, pickleball comes with its own set of potential injuries.

Although seemingly similar to tennis, pickleball differs from tennis in multiple aspects, including the degree of running, court size, equipment size and weight, and scoring. 

Common pickleball injuries and their impact

Most pickleball injuries are considered Slip/Trip/Fall/Dive events with Acceleration/Deceleration injuries making up much of the rest.

The three main types of injuries are:

  1. Contusions and bruises. These make up about 10% of overall pickleball injuries and are due to the slips, trips and falls mentioned above.
  2. Fractures make up about 28% of the injuries on the pickleball court. Women are over three and a half times more likely to suffer a fracture compared to men and nine times more likely to suffer a wrist fracture. The most common fractures are to the wrist, elbow and hand.
  3. Sprain and strain injuries are the primary diagnosis we see relating to pickleball. Sprains involve joints and ligaments and strains involve muscles and tendons. In this category it is males who are three and a half times more likely to suffer a pickleball related sprain or strain.

Sprains and strains can occur in either the upper or lower body and we will discuss some of the common ones we see in this paper.

    1. Ankle Sprains: Quick changes in direction can lead to twisted or rolled ankles.
    2. Knee Injuries: Overuse, twisting or sudden stops can cause strains to the ligaments that support the knee.
    3. Muscle Tears/Strains: Hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors and calf/Achilles
    4. Rotator Cuff Strains: Due to falls and also to repetitive motions related to the game
    5. Low Back Strains: Due to reaching, bending, stop/starts…pretty much anything and everything related to the game

These injuries can significantly impact a player’s ability to partake in the game and affect their overall quality of life.

3 effective tips to relieve chronic pain on your own courtesy by Trimetrics Physiotherapy (Read the caption)

Importance of a dynamic warm-up

A proper warm-up is your first line of defense against injuries. Not only does a dynamic warm-up warm the body and bring blood flow to the muscles and joints used during play, it also stimulates your nervous system meaning faster reaction times, better performance and less chance of injury. 

A well-rounded warm-up routine could include:

  • 5 minutes of light jogging or brisk walking. This should include movements in all directions also known as 4 directional movements. Jog forwards and backwards and move side to side to prepare your body and nervous system for the game. 3-5 times around the court 
  • Twist your body to the left and right slowly at first and then gently increase the speed of movement. Then reach overhead and lean your torso to the left and right. 10-20 movements into each of these directions
  • Lunges each way or lunge walking to make it more dynamic. Side lunges to work the inner thigh muscles. Again move slowly at first and then you can slowly increase the speed. 

If you have some specific areas of tightness or specific questions relating to a region recovering from injury then please ask one of us at Trimetrics Physiotherapy and Clinical Pilates to help you formulate a specific plan for you.

Injury management techniques

An ounce of prevention…. Before an injury happens many patients tell us that they felt some tightness in the area that they had tried to “stretch out”. If you feel something is getting sore or tight then please check it out sooner rather than later.

If you do take an injury on the court then  the RICE method is widely used for sports injuries:

  • Rest: Avoid using the injured area to prevent further damage.
  • Ice: Apply ice to the injury for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first day or two.
  • Compression: Use an elastic bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Try to keep the injured area raised above the level of your heart.

The initial inflammatory injury phase will typically last 2 to 6 days. It’s often a good idea to have your injury diagnosed and treatment started. Bumps and bruises are one thing but pain in muscles and joints usually mean you should give us a call. The presence of muscle weakness, numbness or tingling means you should absolutely see a medical professional.

The role of physiotherapy

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in both treating and preventing pickleball injuries. A physiotherapist can provide a tailored exercise regimen to strengthen vulnerable areas, improve flexibility, and enhance muscle balance and coordination. In short we want to lengthen tight muscles, improve the movement of stiff joints and build the strength of weak muscles.

Give us a call at Trimetrics Physiotherapy and Clinical Pilates to discuss your pickleball injury, injury prevention or perhaps we can help you up your game by improving your agility or helping you deal with a small nagging issue.

Benefits of injury prevention

Preventing injuries means you can enjoy pickleball for longer without the interruption of recovery periods. It contributes to long-term physical health, keeping you active and fit. Moreover, it ensures a longer playing career, allowing you to continue enjoying the social and competitive aspects of the sport.

In conclusion, while pickleball is a fun and engaging sport, it’s essential to take steps to prevent injuries. Remember, a proper warm-up, good posture, balance, and coordination, along with the guidance of a physiotherapist, can go a long way in keeping you safe on the court. Happy playing!

3 ways to relieve rotator cuff pain courtesy by Trimetrics Physiotherapy (Read the caption)


Frequently Asked Questions

Truthfully it’s still early days and we do not fully know the answer to this however one of the things we are noticing is that there are a larger number of female players who are on the court every day and therefore some of these joint issues we’re seeing might have to do with overuse!

Probably a low back strain as a player reaches for a shot.

All kinds of people across different ages and genders. Pickleball is considered by some to be the fastest growing sport in Canada with estimated growth of 5,000-22,000 players in 2017 to over 350,000 players today!

About Isaac Justesen

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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