What is Pickleball & Are Injuries Common?
Pickleball is a racket sport like tennis in which players use paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It is the fastest growing sport in the United States and with it comes a high prevalence of injury. According to a study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, there are an estimated 19,000 pickleball injuries each year. More than 90% of those injuries were from people 50 and older.
The reason injuries are common in pickleball is in part due to the age of its player base. This fun, casual sport involves quick actions, starts, stops, and sudden bursts of activity which can put your body at risk for injuries like ankle sprains, knee and shoulder pain.
This article discusses the most common injuries from pickleball, how to prevent getting hurt, and what to do if you become injured while playing. Because many sports related injuries stem from the feet, PowerStep® PULSE® athletic insoles are the best way to relieve pain and prevent injury from pickleball.
5 Most Common Pickleball Injuries
The physical motions in pickleball from lifting your arm for a quick overhead shot to lunging forward to defend your side of the court can all lead to injury. From simple sprains to torn tendons and heel pain, here are the five most common pickleball-related injuries explained:
Shoulder Sprains & Tears
Most injuries from playing pickleball are shoulder sprains or rotator cuff injuries. Both are overuse injuries from thrusting the paddle into the air to hit the ball. When the joint overextends or your rotator cuff tendons become irritated from constant rubbing, it can cause inflammation and tearing.
Also called tendinitis or bursitis, repeated straining of the muscles or tendons in your shoulder causes pain and weakness. Most shoulder pain from pickleball is a strained muscle, however a torn rotator cuff may require surgery to correct when the pain is too intense.
Ankle pain becomes an issue when you either sprain or twist your ankle playing pickleball or when you tear your Achilles tendon. A sprained ankle can happen when you fall on your ankle or take an awkward and abrupt step. Peroneal tendinitis is a common kind of ankle sprain. Achilles tendonitis can also occur from repeated strain on your lower leg, resulting in pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling.
Often, ankle pain can be prevented by wearing an athletic insole that provides better stability. PowerStep’s clinically proven arch shape and deep heel cradle are designed to promote healthy alignment of the foot, ankle, and leg to enhance stability and prevent injury.
Running across the court in shoes that aren’t supportive or don’t have enough cushioning can cause foot pain and a variety of painful foot conditions. You might experience heel bruising, heel spurs, arch pain from plantar fasciitis, or ball of foot pain. Foot discomfort can also lead to hip, knee, and back pain. Give your shoes the support and cushion they need with orthotic insoles.
Pickleball Pro KaSandra Gehrke uses PowerStep PULSE Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
Professional pickleball player and instructor KaSandra Gehrke swears by PowerStep PULSE Performance insoles as her go-to insole for foot pain relief. The 2021 Women’s Nationals Champion says, “Before I found Powerstep PULSE Performance insoles, my plantar fasciitis was unbearable. I couldn't even step out of bed without excruciating pain. After wearing these insoles, the plantar fasciitis slowly faded away and now I can train the way a professional athlete needs to, without the pain!"
PowerStep is the #1 podiatrist recommended brand for preventing and relieving pain from a variety of conditions including plantar fasciitis. Our patented arch shape equally distributes pressure, provides support, and aligns the foot, ankle, and legs. PULSE insoles also feature premium cushioning to absorb shock and reduce impact on your joints.
Pickleball elbow is a common beginner injury for new players of the sport. Like tennis elbow, this type of overuse injury is a form of tendinitis that features small tears in the tendons and ligaments in the elbow. This can cause inflammation and soreness. It is often worsened by poor form or improper technique.
Fractures in pickleball can happen when you slip and fall on court. Attempting to catch yourself with your hand might result in a wrist fracture. If this happens, it can cause pain and swelling. People with arthritis may be more prone to fractures.
Treatment includes wearing a cast or brace until the injury heals, however displaced fractures may also require surgery to fix. Wrist support braces, including post operative bracing and wraps, can help relieve pain and may prevent further injury.
What Are Pickleball Injuries for Seniors?
Seniors are especially susceptible to injuries from playing pickleball. This includes muscle strains, sprains, and fractures from impact injuries when slipping or falling on the court. Preexisting conditions such as arthritis in the knees, wrists, or hips can also make the pain from injury worse.
If you are over the age of 50, you might want to consult with your doctor before taking part in the sport. Pickleball is a safe sport for seniors when you take the right preventative steps, wear supportive footwear, and understand your limits.
How to Prevent Pickleball Injuries
PowerStep PULSE insoles are the best insoles for foot pain and can even help prevent pickleball injuries. There are also several other ways you can prevent injury so you can keep playing pain free:
- Warm Up: You can prevent injury before a workout by warming up with light exercise such as cycling, jogging, or walking laps around the court.
- Stretch: Stretching your feet, leg muscles, lower back, and shoulders gives you more flexibility which helps prevent injury and encourage recovery post play.
- Hydrate: Drink more water before and during play. Dehydration can make your reaction time worse and hinder your thought process, which can lead to accidents.
- Wear the Right Shoes: The best shoes for pickleball should support your feet, legs, and back. Be sure to choose a pair in the right size that fits your arch type and has enough cushion.
- Know Your Limits: Preexisting conditions like knee pain or arthritis can flare up when playing pickleball. Understand your limits when it comes to playing with pain, even if it means losing a point or forfeiting a match. Pickleball should be fun – not painful.
- Ice Aches & Pains: If you have mild to moderate aches and pains after playing, icing the affected area can help you recover faster. You can also try a topical pain reliever to reduce inflammation.
- Rest: As with most sports related injuries, resting your muscles gives them time to fully heal and recover so you can get back on the court and keep your injury from getting worse.
What to Do If You Get Injured Playing Pickleball
Mild pain or muscle soreness after playing pickleball is okay. Just be sure to rest afterward and wait for the pain to go away before returning to the court. If you experience moderate to severe pain or pain that worsens with activity, talk to your doctor immediately. They may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist to correct the problem and speed up your recovery.
Prevent Pickleball Injuries with PowerStep
With pickleball injuries on the rise as more people start playing the sport, you can prevent injury and relieve pain by adding PowerStep insoles to your court shoes. From ¾ insoles for low profile shoes to insoles for overpronation, PowerStep has exactly what you need to prevent and relieve pain while living an active lifestyle.