Pickleball Injuries and Prevention

How to prevent injury while playing pickleball

According to The Center of Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Care and Research, the most common pickleball injuries are ankle sprains, Achilles Tendonitis, Hamstring and Quadriceps muscle strain, shoulder impingement, and wrist fracture  

Proper footwear:

Another way to prevent injury when playing pickleball is to wear proper shoes. You should wear shoes that provide balance and stability, as well as good traction.

  • The shoes you choose should be selected based on the surface you will be playing on (ex. indoor vs outdoor courts – indoor court more slippery)
  • Before stepping onto the pickleball court, you need to know and understand your limitations, do not push yourself past your physical abilities. You will become better the more you practice, do not over work yourself too early or it may limit your pickleball career.
  • In order to play at your best capacity, drink lots of water before and after matches, make sure that you are giving your body the proper nourishment of carbohydrates and protein, also, give your body the appropriate amount of rest in between matches.

Key aspects to include before, during and after your pickleball games:

  1. Warm up

It is crucial to warm up properly before engaging in a pickleball match. A good dynamic warm up should take place before playing, lasting approximately 5-10 minutes. 

Starting with rally of some sort and stretching before hitting the court for a game is important. The main idea behind this is to get blood flowing to your muscles warming them up so they are less likely to be injured during play.

2. Practice

Some of the recommended training to prevent pickleball related injuries according to usapickleball.org is to stand and look as if you were hitting the ball overhead and take one step back, if you feel dizzy or off balance, you should try and do this drill without a ball until you no longer feel dizzy (see picture below).

Source: usapickleball.org

You should also warm up your knees before playing, practice twisting in a crouched position to improve stance and agility during your match (see picture below)

Source: usapickleball.org

Another stretch designed specifically for pickleball is a high knee lift with a twist. This warm-up helps to stretch your waist, shoulders, hips and it also works to improve your balance.

Source: usapickleball.org

3. Strength/ Balance and Flexibility Training

Since pickleball can be, at times, a rather quick game that requires fast movements and reaching, injuries will start to present themselves if proper care is not taken before, after and during. Ensuring that you incorporate a proper warm up before each game is essential loosen muscles and joints and increase blood flow to working muscles. In addition to warming up, incorporating strength and flexibility training in between pickleball games is a great way to strength bones, ligaments and muscles to prevent injury.

Furthermore, it is important to make sure that you have good balance before stepping onto the pickleball court. Adequate balance helps to prevent falls or hyperextensions that could result in sprained ankles, tears or pulls of joints, as well as potential concussions or wrist fractures.

Strength exercise examples:

Balance exercise examples:

The health and social benefits of pickleball

Pickleball is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, independent of age.

It is a great way to help you meet the Canadian Physical Activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity. Furthermore, pickleball can increase your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). CRF is an important marker for health as it reflects the ability of the respiratory and circulatory system to supply oxygen to working muscles during physical activity. Thus, low CRF (inefficiency or low capacity to supply oxygen to muscles) can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease events and all-cause mortality.

As with many forms of physical activity, pickleball offers improvements in mental health, incorporates social engagement and increases overall physical wellbeing. Pickleball is a fun and engaging game that will make physical activity easy to accomplish without having to do, what some may consider, boring exercises alone.

Pickleball is a great option for older adults who are looking to become more physically active as it’s an activity that is low impact. Pickleball is also a great way to increase agility and balance. Balance issues are prevalent among older adults and account for most injuries related to falls that can be devastating. Therefore, incorporating low impact activities that work on balance, such as pickleball, can offer peace of mind to older adults who may have a fear of falling.

Below is a list of additional benefits pickleball (and physical activity in general) can offer:

Disclaimer: The material (including but without limitation, advice or advice and/or recommendations) in this website page or any of the links to articles which it contains are provided solely as a general educational and informational purpose. It is neither medical nor healthcare advice for any individual problem. It is also not intended to be used for any medical treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers regarding your particular situation.

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