Common Pickleball Injuries and How Physiotherapy Can Help Prevent Them
Published on June 27, 2024
pickleball injury

Pickleball, a fast-growing sport combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, offers great fun and fitness benefits. However, like any sport, it comes with the risk of injuries. Understanding common pickleball injuries and how physiotherapy can help prevent them is essential for staying healthy and enjoying the game.

 

Common Pickleball Injuries

1. Shoulder Injuries

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathies and Tears: Repetitive overhead movements, such as serves and smashes, can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons, leading to inflammation or tears.

2. Elbow Injuries

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Caused by overuse of the forearm muscles, leading to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

3. Wrist Injuries

Wrist Strains and Sprains: Sudden or repetitive wrist movements can cause strains or sprains, leading to pain and reduced range of motion.

4. Knee Injuries

Patellar Tendinitis: Frequent jumping and quick directional changes can strain the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone, causing inflammation and pain.

5. Ankle Injuries

Ankle Sprains: Quick lateral movements and sudden stops can result in rolled ankles, causing ligament sprains.

6. Lower Back Pain

Muscle Strains: Twisting movements and bending to pick up the ball can strain the lower back muscles, leading to discomfort and pain.

How Physiotherapy Can Help Prevent Pickleball Injuries

Physiotherapy plays a vital role in preventing pickleball injuries by addressing muscle imbalances, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall body mechanics. Here are some ways physiotherapy can help:

1. Strengthening Exercises

Targeted Strengthening: Physiotherapists and kinesiologists design specific exercise programs to strengthen muscles crucial for pickleball, such as the shoulders, core, hips, and legs. Strong muscles provide better support and reduce the risk of injury.

Example Exercises:

  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: External rotations with resistance bands to strengthen shoulder stabilizers.
  • Core Strengthening: Planks and Russian twists to enhance core stability.
  • Leg Strengthening: Squats and lunges to build lower body strength.

2. Flexibility and Mobility

Stretching Routines: Regular stretching improves muscle flexibility and joint mobility, reducing the risk of strains and sprains.

Example Stretches:

  • Shoulder Stretches: Cross-body arm stretches to loosen shoulder muscles.
  • Hip Flexor Stretches: Lunging hip flexor stretch to improve hip mobility.
  • Calf Stretches: Standing calf stretch to maintain ankle flexibility.

3. Balance and Proprioception

Balance Training: Improving balance and proprioception (awareness of body position) helps prevent falls and ankle sprains.

Example Exercises:

  • Single-Leg Stands: Balancing on one leg to improve stability.
  • Balance Board Exercises: Using a balance board to enhance proprioception.

4. Technique Improvement

Biomechanical Analysis: Physiotherapists can analyze your playing technique and suggest adjustments to reduce undue stress on joints and muscles.

Example Adjustments:

  • Serve Technique: Modifying serve mechanics to reduce shoulder strain.
  • Footwork: Improving footwork to prevent knee and ankle injuries.

5. Warm-Up and Cool-Down Routines

Proper Warm-Up: Engaging in dynamic warm-up exercises before playing helps prepare the muscles and joints for physical activity.

Example Warm-Up:

  • Dynamic Stretches: Leg swings and arm circles to increase blood flow and muscle readiness.

Cool-Down: Stretching and gentle movements after playing aid in muscle recovery and reduce stiffness.

Example Cool-Down:

  • Static Stretches: Holding stretches for major muscle groups used during play, such as hamstrings and quadriceps.

6. Injury Prevention Education

Education and Awareness: Physiotherapists provide valuable information on injury prevention techniques, proper equipment use, and the importance of listening to your body.

Example Tips:

  • Proper Footwear: Wearing supportive shoes designed for court sports to prevent ankle and knee injuries.
  • Rest and Recovery: Emphasizing the importance of rest days to allow the body to recover and prevent overuse injuries.

Conclusion

Preventing pickleball injuries requires a proactive approach that includes strengthening exercises, flexibility routines, balance training, technique improvement, and proper warm-up and cool-down practices. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in this preventive strategy, helping players stay injury-free and enjoy the game to the fullest.

If you’re experiencing discomfort or want to develop a personalized injury prevention plan, consult with a physiotherapist or kinesiologist at North Shore Sports Medicine. With the right guidance and commitment, you can enhance your performance on the court while minimizing the risk of injury. Stay active, stay healthy, and enjoy your game of pickleball!

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