As the weather changes, more people are taking to the outdoors to enjoy a vigorous game of pickleball. The sport has risen considerably in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays, more than three million people enjoy the sport of pickleball! When it comes to preventing injury, the ultimate guide on pickleball injuries and how to prevent them can help with that!
Even better is that the weather has little bearing on the availability of the sport. Pickleball can be equally enjoyed on outside or indoor court!
Still, pickleball is an intense, high-octane sport. Athletes have to watch themselves and listen to their bodies to make sure they don’t cause any injuries, as with any other sport.
- General Risks
- Pickleball-specific Injuries
- Fractured Ankles And Leg Injuries
- Muscle Strains
- Shoulder Injuries
- Heading To The Court
There are some injuries and risks that are common in all sports. The ultimate guide on pickleball injuries and how to prevent them wouldn’t be complete without paying attention to these injuries. As with all sports, pickleball athletes will need to pay attention to these risks as well.
Dehydration And Exhaustion
One of the most common ailments that can overtake an athlete is dehydration. The sweating and exertion of playing pickleball will take a toll on your body faster than you notice. Often some athletes will even forget to stay hydrated once they get caught up in the game.
Next to dehydration, athletes also commonly fall prey to exhaustion. The competitive spirit can cause athletes to push their body past their limits. Because of this, overexertion and exhaustion can become common issues.
The prevention of these issues is one and the same: listen to your body! Ensure that you’re drinking an adequate amount of fluids to stay hydrated. That includes your warm up and cool down periods as well as your actual playing.
With exhaustion, make sure you aren’t pushing your body past your limits. Make sure your warm up and cool down periods are adequate to keep you limber and loose. Obviously, rest and sleep are vital as well.
So many injuries of all sorts come from reckless or intense play. These injuries are easy to avoid by simply playing safely and by the rules of the game. Remember, most rules are there to protect players!
Wearing the proper protective gear, such as wrist straps and eye protection, can prevent many injuries before they ever occur. Avoid unnecessary fouls or overextension, such as diving for a ball that’s already dead. Do your best to play safely and injuries will become significantly less common.
While there’s a general list of injuries, pickleball comes with its own set of risks to keep in mind. Though there’s no limit, the most common are injured wrists, ankle/leg fractures, muscle strains, and shoulder injuries.
Given that you spend most of the game with a paddle in your hand, it’s no surprise that wrist injuries are so high up on the list of common pickleball injuries.
Treatment for these injuries can take as long as 12 weeks. That’s a long time to be out of the game, so it’s important to focus on prevention.
Wear Protective Wrist Splints
You’ll be spending almost the entire game turning and swinging your wrist, so it’s important to protect them. Overexertion and overuse can cause a variety of injuries in your wrist, from sprains to contributing to arthritis. Consider wearing protective splints to keep them safe.
Ragdoll While Falling
Broken and sprained wrists are often caused when we try to catch ourselves while falling. Though this is often a reflex, it ends up causing more damage than if the athlete simply let themselves fall.
Extending and reaching to catch yourself can cause a variety of injuries past wrist fractures, such as scraped palms or injured elbows. Allowing yourself to ragdoll might take some practice to beat your reflex. Once you have it down, wrist injuries will become significantly less common.
Fractured Ankles And Leg Injuries
The only time you won’t be on your feet in a game of pickleball is if you’ve fallen. Preventing injuries to your legs is crucial to stay in the game. It can be difficult, but there are ways to cut down on your likelihood of injuries.
Don’t Do This Reckless Move
It’s an intense temptation to run back for a ball when it’s going over you. That is a bit reckless, and it can be hard to control yourself while backpedaling.
Losing control while backpedaling often leads to falls and injuries. It’s also easy to twist or sprain an ankle or knee while walking in this manner. Temper your desire to go for every ball to help prevent injuries.
Move In The Direction You’re Facing
This builds off of limiting your backpedaling, but any direction is important. Suddenly jerking in a direction you aren’t facing can sprain ankles or shock knees. Ensure that your body is oriented towards the direction you’re moving to help prevent injuries.
This Isn’t Twister, My Friend
If you’re going to move, move with your whole body. Twisting without moving your feet can overextend an ankle or hyperextend a knee. Don’t twist your body without letting your feet move with it!
While these are all capable of instant injuries, most of the injuries caused by these will be built on over time. Your ankles and knees will gradually become weaker as injuries build in them. Rather than damage your body over years of playing, work to prevent the injuries so that you can play longer.
Muscle strains are a common injury in all sports, but the running and reaching of pickleball can cause these injuries much more often.
Muscle strains can occur in any muscle, not just your arms or legs, so they can be difficult to manage. There are several ways for the pickleball athlete to prevent muscle strains.
Pretend You Are Stretch
Proper and thorough stretching before a game during a warm-up period is the best way to prevent muscle injuries. That keeps your muscles limber and loose to stop them from being strained or torn.
Again, muscle strains can happen in any muscle, so do a full stretch routine! Arms, legs, and core are the most important areas, and the most likely to be strained. Do your best to keep your muscles warm to help prevent injury and strain.
Be Careful Not To Do This
Regardless of how thoroughly you’ve stretched, you can still overextend your muscles easily. It can be done by simply reaching for a ball that’s out of reach or making a lunge too far.
The best way to avoid these injuries, outside of stretching, is to play safely and smartly. Avoid diving or reaching for balls that may be overextending yourself. Resist the temptation to go for dramatic plays and go for the ones you can safely handle.
Every time you go for a swing, you’ll be rotating and swinging your shoulder, too. That leads to a great amount of wear and tear on your shoulder joints and muscles. Moreover, you run the risk of immediate injury from hyperextending or overuse.
You’re Not In A Strong Person Competition
The easiest way to injure your shoulder is by swinging your arm too hard. That can lead to dislocation, hyperextension, and a myriad of other injuries. Additionally, you run the risk of knocking the ball out of bounds!
You can cut down on shoulder injuries easily by tempering how hard you hit the ball. Work to focus on control and accuracy in sending a rocket over to your opponents. Not only will you keep your shoulder safe, but you’ll also elevate your pickleball game!
You’re Not Greg Louganis And This Isn’t The Olympics
An easy way to hurt your shoulder is the impact of landing after diving for a ball. While dramatic, and sometimes necessary for a play, diving is a dangerous move.
Do your best to limit the frequency of your diving. Try not to do it at all in friendly or casual games, too. That way, you’ll have a much lower chance of hurting your shoulder from a fall or dive.
Heading To The Court
With sports, especially one as active and intense as pickleball, injuries can be almost impossible to avoid. You’ll always feel sore and tired out after such a rigorous game.
By following the tips in the ultimate guide on pickleball injuries and how to prevent them, you can cut down on the frequency of injuries considerably. Keeping your body warm and limber and following safety guidelines is key.
More than anything, work on injury prevention to stop you from having to stop playing! Working towards prevention keeps you healthy and on the court. What are your pickleball injury stories, and how do you prevent harm? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.