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  • Writer's pictureKate

Common Pickleball injuries and why they happen.

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Pickleball— a cross between tennis and ping pong that features paddles, a wiffle ball and an outdoor court , is the fastest growing sport in America.

Because the sport appears easy to pick up, it is common for players to overexert themselves

The ease of playing can lead to other bad habits as well, such as a lesser emphasis on proper technique and footwork. Both can predispose a person to both acute and overuse injuries.

The most common Pickleball injuries involve the knees and lower back. These areas of the body are particularly prone to injury for a few reasons, including the quick start-stop nature of the game, frequent bending due to the low bounce height of the ball and a smaller court size that means more sudden changes in direction.

The potential injuries that can occur in the legs or lower back include:

  • Calf strains and tears

  • Flares of knee arthritis

  • Herniated disks in the lower back

  • Meniscus tears

  • MCL and LCL strains

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Hamstring strains

  • Achilles injuries

  • Ankle sprains

Because pickleball players swing paddles, the upper extremities — shoulder, wrist, elbow — are also prone to injuries. Those include:

  • Tennis and golfer's elbow (tendinitis involving the forearm muscles)

  • Wrist tendinitis

  • Rotator cuff tendinitis and tears

  • Labral tears

While the shoulder is vulnerable, one advantage of pickleball — at least compared to tennis or other racket sports — is that the serve is underhand, rather than overhand.

This results in an inherent reduction in amount of overhead movement, which may make the sport more tolerable for people with pre-existing shoulder issues. These players should exercise caution to prevent overcompensating with other parts of the body.

Lastly, as with almost any sport, traumatic injuries are possible.

Ocular (eye) injuries from direct impact from the paddle or ball are possible and should be evaluated immediately, Falls resulting in fractures or head trauma are also common, either from changing directions too quickly or from backpedaling on the heels to return a lob, causing a loss in balance.

Enjoy the game! Just don't over do it.

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