Pickleball Injury Prevention: How to Relish the Fun Without Getting Sidelined

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Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport and the peak season is now upon us. It’s fun and exciting but can also cause some serious injuries. As an enthusiast myself, I know how easy it is to jump into playing without warming up first. It is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and is played on a court that is about a third of the size of a traditional tennis court. While pickleball is generally considered to be a low-impact sport, there are still some common injuries that can occur, especially if players do not take proper precautions. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common pickleball injuries, the best stretches to warm up with, and the proper shoes to wear to help prevent these injuries.

Common Pickleball Injuries

While pickleball is generally a safe sport, there are still some common injuries that can occur. Some of the most common injuries include:

  1. Ankle Sprains: Ankle sprains are a common injury in many sports, and pickleball is no exception. The sudden changes in direction and quick movements can cause players to roll their ankles, leading to sprains.
  2. Tennis Elbow: Tennis elbow is a common injury in racket sports, and pickleball is no different. This injury is caused by overuse and can result in pain and inflammation in the elbow.
  3. Shoulder Injuries: Shoulder injuries are common in many racket sports, and pickleball is no exception. The repetitive overhead motion of slamming and hitting can lead to shoulder impingement, rotator cuff strains, and other injuries.
  4. Knee Injuries: Knee injuries can occur in pickleball due to the sudden changes in direction and quick movements. These can result in strains, sprains, and even tears.

It’s important to warm up properly before playing. Here are some of the best stretches to warm up with:

  1. Leg Swings: Leg swings are a great way to warm up your hips and legs. Stand with one hand on a wall for support and swing one leg back and forth, keeping it straight. Do this 10-15 times on each leg.
  2. Arm Circles: Arm circles are a great way to warm up your shoulders. Stand with your arms out to your sides and make small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Do this 10-15 times in each direction.
  3. Wrist Stretches: Wrist stretches are important for warming up your wrists and forearms. Hold one arm out in front of you with your palm facing down. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back towards your wrist. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then switch arms.
  4. Quad Stretches: Quad stretches are important for warming up your legs. Stand with one hand on a wall for support and bend one leg behind you, grabbing your ankle with your other hand. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then switch legs.
  5. Reaching Hamstring Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Extend your right leg out in front of you, keeping your toes pointed up towards the ceiling. Reach forward with your left hand and try to touch your right toes, while keeping your back straight. Hold the stretch for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch on the other side, extending your left leg out in front of you and reaching towards your left toes with your right hand. When performing this stretch, make sure to keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight. Avoid rounding your spine or hunching over as you reach forward. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh as you reach towards your toes.
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The Proper Shoes to Wear

When it comes to playing tennis or pickleball, your shoes can make a big difference in your performance and your safety. The right shoes can provide support, stability, and comfort, while the wrong shoes can lead to slips, falls, and injuries. Here’s what to look for when picking out shoes for tennis or pickleball:

  1. Traction: One of the most important factors in tennis or pickleball shoes is traction. You want shoes that will grip the court and prevent you from slipping or sliding. Look for shoes with non-slip soles or outsoles made from rubber or other high-friction materials. Some shoes may also have special tread patterns or grooves that provide extra grip.
  2. Support: The constant stopping, starting, and lateral movements involved in tennis and pickleball can be tough on your feet and ankles. That’s why it’s important to look for shoes that provide good support. Shoes with sturdy uppers, padded collars, and reinforced heels can help stabilize your feet and prevent injuries.
  3. Cushioning: The impact of running and jumping on a hard court can take a toll on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. Look for shoes with good cushioning in the midsole or heel area. Some shoes may also have additional padding or gel inserts for extra comfort. You can also add your own orthotic made of a memory foam material for more cushioning.
  4. Breathability: Tennis and pickleball can be hot and sweaty sports, so you want shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Look for shoes with mesh or other breathable materials that will help keep your feet cool and dry. Some shoes may also have moisture-wicking liners or ventilation holes to reduce sweat buildup.
  5. Durability: Finally, you want shoes that are built to last. Tennis and pickleball shoes can take a beating, so look for shoes with durable materials and reinforced stitching. Some shoes may also have additional features like toe guards or scuff-resistant uppers to protect against wear and tear.

When you’re shopping for tennis or pickleball shoes, make sure to try them on and walk around in them before making a purchase. Look for shoes that feel comfortable and provide a snug, secure fit. And don’t forget to consider your own playing style and needs – for example, if you have a history of ankle injuries, you may want to prioritize support and stability over other factors.

In summary, when picking out shoes for tennis or pickleball, look for shoes with good traction, support, cushioning, breathability, and durability. By choosing the right shoes, you can improve your performance and reduce your risk of injuries. So step up your game and step into some great shoes!