By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
The first pickleball game is dated all the way back to 1965, but its popularity recently skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving its purpose, pickleball connected a lot of people who were looking for a safe and distanced way to exercise outdoors. Although pickleball is often labeled as a form of exercise or a fun way to stay active, it is a sport. And just like in any other sport, pickleball players are not invincible to injuries.
Here are some of the common injuries pickleball players need to watch out for:
Being a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, pickleball requires a lot of foot movements as well. All the running, sudden stops, and side-to-side steps put pickleball players at risk of twisting their ankles.
Despite the thickness and sturdiness of the Achilles tendon, it is still susceptible to swelling and inflammation when overused. Players who just started playing pickleball or any other racquet sport need to pace themselves just enough for their muscles to get used to the movements.
Rotator cuff injuries
Just like our Achilles tendons, rotator cuffs can get injured when overused. Although pickleball only requires underhand serves, poor techniques in swinging your paddle and too much strain from playing can take a toll on your rotator cuffs.
Lots of running and sudden acceleration, deceleration, and stops puts pickleball players at risk of pulling their hamstrings causing a sharp, burning pain in the backs of their thighs.
Derived from one of its ancestors’ “tennis elbow”, pickleball elbow occurs when the elbow tendons get strained from repetitive swinging motions. Players suffering from pickleball elbow mostly feel swelling and pain from the outer or inner elbow traveling down to the wrist, and/or stiffness on the forearm affecting range of motion and grip.
Tips to help you prepare for play
Warm up properly before playing. Always be sure to do a proper warm up to make sure that your muscles are prepared and conditioned for sudden movements. Pay close attention to stretching your calves, hamstrings, inner thighs, lower back, shoulders, and wrists.
Invest in proper equipment. The right pair of shoes for pickleball should be able to provide optimal court traction and stability, and help absorb impact. Meanwhile, investing on a high-quality paddle can help prevent wrist and elbow injuries. A paddle that is too heavy puts an added strain to your forearm muscles.
Know when to take a break. Know your physical limitations and pace your playing to avoid wear and tear.
If you suspect an injury, book an appointment with one of the experienced clinicians at the Sport Manitoba Clinic.