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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick Thompson, PT, DPT, OCS, Dip. Osteopractic

Common Pickleball Injuries...and How to Prevent Them!

Pickleball has grown an astounding 223.5% over the past 3 years and boasts over 36 million pickleball players in the United States - additionally, there is a 7.7% annual growth rate forecasted through 2028. Woah! The next America's Pastime?

But of course, with this enormous rise in popularity, comes an increase in injuries sustained by Pickleballers. And with pickleball being relatively new in the grand scheme of recreational activities, this means a lot of beginner/novice athletes are attempting to learn this exciting game.

We all know the drill, anytime we began a new exercise routine, sport, or active hobby, we start to have sore muscles where we didn’t know we had muscles. Additionally, aches and pains from the sudden increased exercise begin to interfere with your daily tasks and activities.

This becomes the pivotal point for a lot of Pickleballers out there, do we continue exploring and playing the new game we love, or do we quit due to fear of injury?

This paralyzing fear of injury or re-injury has stopped many budding Pickleball careers before they ever even started.

But with awareness - and knowledge - comes power! So let’s break it down:

Common Pickleball Injuries to avoid to keep your Pickleball dreams alive!

  • Shoulder Strain (Rotator Cuff Tear)

    • This is a common injury for many overhead athletes (throwers, volleyball, tennis, etc), or athletes that repetitively reach overhead with force (But who doesn’t love a good overhand smash, right!?!)

  • Pickleball Elbow

    • This overuse injury sneaks up on people since they assume elbow pain only occurs with tennis (tennis elbow). But Pickleballers are not immune to repetitive motions combined with forcefully gripping the paddle.

  • Ankle Sprains (rolling your ankle)

    • Anytime we are reacting quickly while rapidly changing directions, we are susceptible to rolling our ankle, resulting in the ever-common, but ever-annoying, ankle sprain.

  • Knee Injuries (Meniscus Injuries)

    • Meniscus injuries can lay dormant in many active individuals, especially degenerative meniscal tears. But sudden increased recreational activities with loading/jumping can lead to many knee injuries.

  • Falls (most notably directly onto your knees, hips, wrists, or elbows)

    • Staying in the same category as reactionary movements and changing directions, falls can occur routinely while playing Pickleball. And since Pickleball is played on hard surfaces, this can results in an injury - notably when landing directly on your knees, hips, wrists, or elbows.

  • Achilles Tendonitis

    • Lastly, due to sudden heavy loading and plyometric activities, the Achilles tendon can become inflamed, leading to Achilles tendonitis and/or a calf strain. This is common in Pickleball, especially when rapidly changing direction to sprint forward towards the net.

Ways to Avoid These Injuries:

  • Regular and Consistent Exercise

    • Sudden increased activity to untrained muscles lead to overuse injuries and acute inflammation. Maintaining a baseline healthy active lifestyle can limit injury.

  • Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

    • This is important for muscle and tendon health. Dehydrated Pickleballers are more likely to sustain cramping injuries, overuse injuries, and/or strains.

  • Balance Training

    • To combat the risk of falling while playing Pickleball, we should always train our balance. Yes, this can be improved despite the number of birthday candles on your birthday cake.

  • Wear proper shoes

    • Playing pickleball in a pair of sandals or Crocs is likely not the best idea. So wearing comfortable and supportive athletic shoes can help with the increased ground reaction forces endured with Pickleball.

  • Stretching

    • Ahh the ever important and underutilized stretching/flexibility training. Keeping proper muscle/tendon flexibility with a consistent stretching routine can help reduce the risk of injury.

Ok, I did all of this, but I still don’t feel right.

You don’t have to wait for a big injury to address pain/soreness or to enhance your game with Physical Therapy services. Working with an Osteopractic Physical Therapist who has extensive training in recovery care, dry needling, and injury rehab can keep your performance on the Pickleball Court at the highest level.

So if you are ready to either get back on the Pickleball Court, or stay on the court, then give Flow Physical Therapy and Wellness in The Woodlands, Texas a call or click the button below to stay in the game and be a part of the Pickleball Movement!

Dr. Patrick Thompson, PT, DPT, OCS, Dip. Osteopractic

Owner of Flow Physical Therapy and Wellness


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