I had heard people talking about common pickleball injuries but I’ll never forget feeling like I could take on the world when I stepped foot on the pickleball court for the very first time.
The one who was impervious to harm.
The one who could run full speed after a ball that was about to go out of play.
After all, pickleball wasn’t intense at all. (And this is where I learn my lesson…)
The following week during a doubles match, however, I played a bit too confidently and, well, I fell victim to my short-lived confidence and twisted my ankle on the pavement while attempting to back up and save a ball.
It doesn’t end there.
To save myself, I landed hard on the court pavement and the next day, I could feel my shoulders were sore and my knees were scraped up from sliding.
After my relatively minor injury, it seemed as if I had cursed the entire sport, as others around me also began to suffer injuries. Some were relatively minor. Some were very significant.
From swollen kneecaps to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, it was clear I and many others around me misjudged the sport and its potential to cause injury.
What are the most common pickleball injuries?
So, as a public service announcement, I’m here to talk about the three most common pickleball injuries experienced by pickleball players of any age so hopefully, you can reduce your risk when playing pickleball:
- Pickleball elbow
- Fractures in the wrist and hip
- Rotator cuff injury
Let’s get into exploring each of these injuries in more detail and at the end of each injury, I will provide some recommendations as to how you can prevent them in the future.
Ready? Let’s go.
What injury comes to mind when you think about paddle sports like tennis or ping pong? ACL? Knee pain?
Surprisingly, neither of those is at the top of the list when it comes to pickleball injuries. One of the most prevalent injuries suffered by players is something known as “pickleball elbow.”
This injury happens because of repetitive swinging actions and ball collisions. When you swing the paddle and hit the ball without proper technique and equipment, it will injure the forearm muscles and tendons that stabilize the wrist.
When these muscles are not properly warmed up or given adequate rest after a match, it can create micro-tears in the tendon, resulting in pain and inflammation.
How can you reduce your chances of getting pickleball elbow?
First and foremost, ensure that the paddle you are using is appropriate for YOU. It should not be excessively hefty or cause wrist strain. Many novice or recreational players will utilize wooden paddles or just choose a paddle that is useable or most convenient.
You may not feel the effects at first, but you will begin to feel the tension with time. Make sure to spend adequate time testing different paddles in-store to get a feel of what is most comfortable.
Wrist and hip fractures
Another risk of playing pickleball is the possibility of falling, and because many people make the mistake of overlooking the intensity of pickleball, the risk of falling is typically higher in the beginning.
Fractures can occur from a variety of causes, such as catching yourself with your hand or tripping while attempting to catch a ball. If your balance is off and you fall, you run the risk of suffering a fracture anywhere on your body, not just the wrist and hip.
The biggest problem is that a lot of people get up and keep playing even when they have unknowingly had a fracture, and as a result, it gets worse over time.
How can you reduce the chance of getting a fracture?
The best piece of advice I can give if you’ve experienced a fracture is to get some rest and then seek professional medical assistance.
The most effective measure you can take to prevent it from happening again in the future is to work on improving your balance through either moderate strength training or mobility exercise.
Rotator cuff injury
One of the things that makes pickleball so enjoyable is that there is no strong swinging that goes over the head to slam the ball. Most of the action occurs either below the player’s waist or their shoulders.
So, what exactly is the significance of the rotator cuff injury here?
If you’re not familiar with the location of the rotator cuff, it’s in the vicinity of your shoulder and consists of a group of four muscles that wrap around the top of the humerus bone.
If you start to experience pain in that region or have difficulty raising your arm, clicking sounds, or a stinging sensation, it is highly likely that you have torn or overworked your rotator cuff in some capacity.
The most common causes of rotator cuff injuries are due to improper hitting technique and the use of incorrect equipment.
How can you reduce the risk of getting rotator cuff injuries?
By working with a professional, enrolling in lessons, or even just reading the necessary material on your own, you can reduce or even completely avoid rotator cuff injuries.
The piece of advice that has helped me the most:
Instead of relying on your arms and shoulders to propel your motion, try putting your hips and trunk to work instead. This will not only improve your core strength and hip mobility, but it will also lessen the impact of your swing while you’re trying to strike the ball.
Warming up your joints can also be helped along by practicing full arm stretches before a match.
Final thoughts about common pickleball injuries
Pickleball is a sport that can be a lot of fun to play as well as a good way to get some exercise; nevertheless, it is essential to practice caution when playing the sport because negligent play can lead to injury.
To summarize, common pickleball injuries that players sustain include dislocations of the hip and wrist, fractures of the elbow and wrist, and injuries to the rotator cuff.
It is vital to choose equipment suitable for your body, focus on your balance and technique, and warm up your joints before playing to reduce the risk of sustaining one of these injuries.
Don’t forget to get medical attention if you hurt yourself and take breaks whenever you feel like it.
From now on, remember to play pickleball in a responsible manner to avoid these common pickleball injuries while still having a good time!