Common Pickleball Injuries and How You Can Try to Avoid Them
But getting active can also come with the risk of injury, and some people have gotten hurt playing pickleball. Actress Amanda Peet, for instance, playfully poked fun at a pickleball injury she sustained, while wearing a sling on the set of Late Night with Seth Meyers.
She joked: “So, I had an operation yesterday. I had tennis elbow from playing pickleball…. I am not good enough at pickleball to warrant this whole operation…. It’s a very bad combination of cockiness and old age!”
Common pickleball injuries
One of the most common overuse injuries [ECS1] in the upper body is either tennis (now often called pickleball elbow) or golfer’s elbow. “These injuries are irritation of one or both tendons near the elbow,” says CJ Johnson, a personal trainer, pickleball coach and founder of wearepickleball.com. The most common reason Johnson sees this occur is a lack of warm-up. “Most of the time, players grab a paddle, jump on the court and start playing. They do little to no stretching,” she says.
Rotator cuff injuries
“Rotator cuff injuries have become another common injury, whether that is with the muscle or the tendon,” says Dr. Matt Tanneberg, a chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) in Scottsdale, Arizona. The repetitive movement and overhead use, he explains, can sometimes put excess stress and pressure on the rotator cuff, causing it to get inflamed or torn.
Another injury that occurs is damage to the meniscus—which is essentially your knees’ “shock absorber.” “In pickleball, there is a lot of lateral agility involved, as well as forward and backwards movement,” says Tanneberg. “The quick, sudden movements, especially planting and twisting the knee, is how you damage the meniscus.”
A frequent lower-body injury that Johnson sees is Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that connects the bones in the foot. “Like the elbow injury, it can be excruciating,” she explains. “Asphalt surfaces, which are the most common surface for pickleball courts, are difficult on the body.”
Fractures and concussions
Fractures during pickleball are generally rare, but can happen if you take a tumble while playing the sport. “A concussion can also occur if you're hit in the head by an errant shot or fail to protect yourself against strong shots from other players,” explains Nathan Lloyd, a licensed personal trainer and founder of Expert Fitness LLC.
How to help prevent pickleball injuries
When it comes to playing pickleball, a few safety precautions can often go a long way in helping you to prevent an injury. “Do a warm-up and cool down, wear the proper shoes for the sport, and pace yourself both in the number of times you play each week and the amount of time you play on any given day,” says Johnson.
“Having a proper warm up, including stretching and mobility, will help to lower the risk of suffering any type of injury,” adds Tanneberg. It’s also important to have a proper cool down to help allow your body to repair and recover in a timely manner. This can be done with dynamic movements beforehand (bodyweight squats, lunges, go for a jog, etc.) Tanneberg says, adding that foam rolling can also help. After you're done playing, for a cool down, you can perform your static stretching, where you “are holding a specific stretch for 20-45 seconds.”
Regular stretching that you do when engaging in any type of exercise can also help. And Johnson shares this simple stretch to help prevent tennis elbow:
Stand tall and hold one arm out in front of you at shoulder height, so it’s parallel to the ground. Make a fist with that hand. Using the other hand, gently pull the fist toward the ground. Then keeping that same arm at shoulder height, open the hand, so the hand is perpendicular to the ground (like you are telling someone to stop). Using the other hand, gently pull back the fingers. As little as five-minute stretching before or after play can make a player much less susceptible to injury.
It's also important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. “Keep an eye out for balls that might have rolled away, and stay alert when you are serving so that you don't end up heading into someone else's pickleball zone unintentionally,” says Jon Callahan, founder and CEO of PickleVine, an award-winning website dedicated to Pickleball.
If you feel pain after playing pickleball that doesn’t resolve in a day or two with rest and icing the area, you may need to make an appointment with your doctor to have an injury checked out. They can better advise you on what your exact injury is and give you some advice on how to properly care for yourself so that you can get back to the court fast.
The above content is shared for educational and informational purposes only. References to specific products above do not constitute an express or implied endorsement or recommendation by Brookdale with respect to such products. You must consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or fitness program, taking any additional or discontinuing any existing medications, or acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.
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