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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Avoiding Common Pickleball Injuries

Avoiding Pickleball Injuries

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddleball sport. It's a combination of table tennis, traditional tennis, and badminton. In the game of pickleball, players hit a ball over a net and back, much like in the other (more well-known) racquet sports. The ball is very similar to a wiffle-ball.

Since its invention in the summer of 1965, pickleball has been one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the country. Here in the Vail Valley pickleball is a favored summer activity by many looking for a fun, competitive, generally-easy-to-start activity.

We even have some great leagues here in Vail. But before you get out there, it’s important to remember that just like any other racquet sport, injuries are possible.

As you get ready to pick up your paddle and start kicking butt on the pickleball court, know how to avoid injuries that can hamper your season.

Here are the major pickleball injuries to watch out for:

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Shoulder injuries can affect any overhead athlete. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that help move the shoulder through its entire range of motion.

Overuse of the rotator cuff can sideline you for a good amount of time. Before picking up the paddle, stretch the muscles of the shoulder. Pay close attention to those muscles around the scapula and the lateral rotators.

Proper timing of the shoulder blade and glenohumeral (ball and socket) joint is essential.

Ankle Sprains

When the ankle turns inward (inversion) the ligaments on the outside of the ankle become strained. Most often, ankle injuries during pickleball happen by stepping on another player’s foot or stepping on the ball.

Wearing proper footwear is the first step to prevention. Athletic shoes with a good sole that support the heel and ankle are best.

Mild ankle sprains can be treated at home with basic conservative treatments. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation will help with the initial pain and inflammation. An easy way to know if you are ready to return to the court is when you have a full range of motion, no swelling, and are able to hop up and down on one foot.

Tennis Elbow

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, this is when the forearm muscles that extend the wrist and fingers become irritated. Pain is localized at the attachment site of these muscles on the outside of the elbow.

Stretch the forearm muscles with the elbow fully extended. If you begin to have discomfort or pain on the outside of the elbow, it’s time to rest. Stretch those muscles some more and consider using anti-inflammatory medication.

Muscle Strains

(i.e. Quadriceps, hamstring, calf) - Stretch, stretch, stretch. Tight muscles that are overextended can become strained and painful. Before playing perform a structured stretching program paying close attention to the muscles of the legs.

Warm up before that first serve. Aggressive play before the body is ready opens the door to muscle strains that can be nagging for long periods.

Pickleball is fun and easy so find your partner and get on the court. Not all pickleball injuries can be avoided, but some simple preparation can help. Have a great summer and enjoy the competition.


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