Pickleball is America’s favorite emerging recreational sport at the moment. The game that was first developed on Washington’s Bainbridge Island in 1965 is taking the Sonoma County by storm for its ease of access, fun, quick action, and social attraction.

What’s lost in the excitement, however, is that the sport is leading to numerous injuries. Common pickleball injuries include shoulder impingement syndrome, tennis elbow, and wrist tendinitis. Treatment for these injuries typically includes ice, rest, and physical therapy. Prevention of these injuries can be achieved by using proper technique when playing and by warming up before playing.

Common Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints among pickleball players. This is often due to strain or injury to the rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons supporting the arm at the shoulder joint. Overextension can also damage the rotator cuff, causing inflammation and reduced range of motion.

These usually occur when a player makes an aggressive move, such as lunging for a shot, and overstretching a muscle or tendon. Sometimes, this can lead to long-term damage if not treated properly.

Tennis Elbow

Pickleball is a popular sport that is similar to tennis. Like tennis, pickleball can sometimes lead to injuries, particularly in the elbow. This condition, known as pickleball elbow, is caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons in the elbow. It is typically seen in players who make repeated motions with their arms, such as those who play tennis or baseball. Pickleball elbow is a type of tennis elbow, which is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and soreness in the elbow due to the stress placed on the joint.

Players with pickleball elbow may experience these symptoms when they try to grip a paddle or swing their arm. The condition is treatable with rest, ice, and physical therapy. However, it is important to see a doctor if the pain does not go away or gets worse. Untreated, pickleball elbow can lead to long-term damage to the elbow joint. Pickleball players can reduce their risk of developing this condition by using proper form when playing and by taking breaks often.

Heel Bruising

Heel bruising is a common injury among pickleball players. These bruises develop slowly and typically involve the pad that surrounds the heel. The damage can be caused by repetitive movements that put pressure on the heel bone. In some cases, the bruises can be quite severe and may indicate more serious damage to the heel bone. Seek medical attention if you experience severe pain or swelling in your heel.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common pickleball injury, especially among players who are new to the sport. The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that runs from the calf muscle to the heel bone. This tendon is responsible for helping the foot to point downward and also assists in pushing off when walking or running. Achilles tendonitis occurs when this tendon becomes inflamed, typically as a result of overuse or repetitive stress. In some cases, the Achilles tendon may experience multiple tears, which can lead to even more pain and inflammation.

There are two forms of Achilles tendonitis: non-insertional and insertional. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis affects the middle portion of the tendon, while insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs at the lower portion where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include pain and stiffness in the calf and swelling in the affected area. If you suspect you have Achilles tendonitis, it is important to see a doctor to receive treatment and avoid further damage to the tendon.

Other Common Injuries

One of the most common injuries in pickleball is knee injuries. This is usually due to the quick starts, stops, and changes in direction that are often necessary for the game. Other common pickleball injuries include wrist fractures, shin splints, and ankle sprains. While these injuries can be serious, they are typically not life-threatening. However, it is always important to consult a doctor if you have any concerns about your health or safety while playing pickleball or any other sport.

How to Prevent Common Pickleball Injuries

No one wants to get injured while playing pickleball, especially if it means missing out on the game for an extended period of time. There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of injuries.

Exercise Regularly

If you play pickleball regularly, it’s important to exercise regularly and eat a proper diet to maintain your health and lower your risk of injury. Strengthening exercises help to stimulate the muscles and improve overall health. A routine exercise program can also improve your coordination and flexibility, which can help avoid injuries. In addition, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of pickleball injuries.

Proper Hydration

As with any sport, injuries are always a risk when playing pickleball. However, there are some steps that can be taken to help avoid injury. One of the most important is proper hydration. It is essential to drink enough water before and after playing, as this will help to prevent cramping and muscle strains. The amount of water needed varies depending on the person, but it is important to make sure that you are properly hydrated before starting any physical activity.

Protective Eyewear

The most common pickleball injury is being hit in the eye with a ball or paddle. This can cause serious damage to the eye, including cuts, bruises, swelling, and even intraocular bleeding. Wearing protective eyewear can help reduce the risk of this type of injury.

Stretch Your Body

Muscle strains are the most common type of pickleball injury, but you can help prevent them by properly warming up before you play. A good warm-up will increase your range of motion and get your blood flowing. Start by taking a short walk to loosen up your muscles, then do arm and leg stretches to release tension or rigidity. Remember to stretch before and after your pickleball game to help prevent injuries.

Comfortable Footwear

One of the best ways to avoid pickleball injuries is to wear comfortable and supportive footwear. Pickleball is a fast-paced game requiring many quick starts and stops, so it’s important to have a shoe that can provide good foot and ankle support. Various shoes on the market are designed specifically for pickleball, and they can offer a great deal of protection from leg injuries like sprains and strains.

However, even if you’re not playing pickleball, it’s important to wear supportive shoes when participating in any sport or activity. This will help keep your feet safe from harm and prevent injuries.

Is Pickleball Hard On Your Joints?

Pickleball may be a relatively new sport, but it has already gained a reputation as being easy on the joints. Unlike other racket sports such as tennis or badminton, pickleball is played with a lightweight paddle and a soft polymer ball. The game is also played on a smaller court, which means that players spend less time running back and forth. As a result, pickleball is often recommended as a low-impact activity for people with joint pain or arthritis. In addition, the game can be played at a variety of different speeds, making it easy to adjust the intensity level to suit your needs. So pickleball may be worth checking out if you’re looking for an activity that won’t aggravate your joints.

Santa Rosa Orthopaedics

Don’t let pain keep you from participating in the activities you enjoy. Our sports medicine specialists are leaders in patient care, surgical and non-surgical treatments, physical and occupational therapy and patient education – allowing you to benefit from the most up-to-date treatment and therapies available. We focus on helping patients avoid surgery and utilize regenerative medicine and non-surgical techniques whenever possible. We also implement an evidence-based approach to the care and treatment of all of our patients.