Sports / Orthopedic

How to Avoid Pickleball Injuries and Stay Safe

Nov 17 2023

Avoiding pickleball injuries is very important when playing the fastest-growing sport in America.

Pickleball is a mix of ping pong, badminton and tennis. It is also an easy game to pick up and isn’t super physically demanding either. However, it is still an activity that can cause injuries.

Some common pickleball injuries are:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Calf strains
  • Achilles tendon strains
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Wrist and elbow injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis

One of the best things you can do to prevent pickleball injuries is to stretch before playing. So, add the following warm-ups to your routine before stepping out on the pickleball court.

1: Rotating Forward Lunges

Start by standing with your feet side by side. Take a big step forward into a lunge position, then pause for a second. Once you find your balance, twist your chest and shoulders toward your front leg. Then, turn them back to face forward. From here, step your front foot back so it is side by side again with your rear foot. Repeat this stretch with your other leg.

2: Arm Circles

This stretch starts by standing with your feet together and your arms at your side. From there, lift your arms straight out to the side until both elbows are straight. Move your arms forward to draw small circles for 15 or 20 seconds. Then, reverse your movement and draw small circles backwards for the same amount of time. Repeat forward and backward for another round, but draw bigger circles this second time. 

3: Leg Swings

To set yourself up for this stretch, find a wall you can use for balance. Stand with your left shoulder toward the wall and your feet side by side. From there, place your hand on the wall for support and kick one of your legs forward, like you are kicking a ball. Then, instead of placing your foot back on the ground, keep swinging it so it goes behind you. Continue swinging your leg back and forth for as long as you want. Then, repeat this stretch with your other leg.  

Here are some additional steps pickleball players can take to further prevent injury while playing.

  • Wear good shoes: There are court shoes with rubber soles and good grips that are made for pickleball and tennis court surfaces. Consider getting a pair if you play pickleball on a regular basis.
  • Use the right paddle: Using the right paddle can help you with wrist pain and tennis elbow. The two things to focus on is that your paddle is the right weight for you as well as the right grip size.
  • Get your fluids in: Staying hydrated is important for any sport, including pickleball. Be sure to drink water before playing. Also, bring a water bottle with you to drink while playing. If you are playing outside in warm weather, sports drinks with electrolytes are a good option, too.
  • Stay in shape: There are lots of different exercises you can do that will help you be more physically ready for your pickleball sessions. They include walking, biking, strength training, yoga, swimming and Pilates to name a few.
  • Prioritize recovery time: Like all sports, pickleball requires time to recover afterward. After playing, consider taking a day or two off to give your body a rest. This is very important when you are first learning how to play or if you are coming back from an injury.

Whether you have played pickleball for a while now or you are just getting started, these tips will help you avoid pickleball injuries.

Learn about the sports medicine services we provide at Mercy Health.

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