Woman playing pickleball

Pickleball Pandemonium: 5 Common Injuries and How to Keep Your Pickleball Game Strong!

If you’re a pick­le­ball enthu­si­ast, you know that this quirky and fast-paced sport is tak­ing the world by storm. With a mix of ten­nis, bad­minton, and ping pong, pick­le­ball pro­vides an excit­ing and com­pet­i­tive expe­ri­ence for play­ers of all ages and skill lev­els. Despite the laugh­ter and friend­ly com­pe­ti­tion, there’s one thing that can put a damper on your pick­le­ball fun: injuries. Yes, the pick­le­ball court can be a bat­tle­field of sprained ankles, strained mus­cles, and more. In fact, our Orthopaedic team has seen an increase in injuries caused by this fast-grow­ing activity. 

Stay in the game by under­stand­ing the top five com­mon pick­le­ball injuries and tips on how to keep your pick­le­ball game strong. 

Oh, My Ankle!” – Sprained Ankles

The lat­er­al move­ments and quick direc­tion changes in pick­le­ball can put stress on your ankles, mak­ing sprained ankles a com­mon occur­rence on the court. This can occur by land­ing awk­ward­ly, step­ping on a ball, or twist­ing your ankle dur­ing a fast-paced game. 

Treat­ment for Sprained Ankles

R.I.C.E, which stands for Rest, Ice, Com­pres­sion and Ele­va­tion, is the key to man­ag­ing a sprained ankle. Start by tak­ing a break from the court and allow­ing your ankle to rest, fol­lowed by apply­ing ice to reduce swelling, wrap­ping it with a com­pres­sion ban­dage and ele­vat­ing the foot. Over-the-counter med­ica­tions can also be help­ful to man­age pain and inflam­ma­tion. It is also impor­tant to start gen­tle range of motion exer­cis­es ear­ly in the process and bear weight as you tol­er­ate. If you are unable to bear weight, it is a good idea to be seen by one of our providers and get an X‑ray to ensure that a more seri­ous injury, such as a frac­ture, has not occurred. And remem­ber, always wear sup­port­ive and well-fit­ted shoes to pro­vide sta­bil­i­ty to your ankles dur­ing pick­le­ball games.

Ouch, My Shoul­der!” – Rota­tor Cuff Strains

The over­head swings and repet­i­tive shoul­der move­ments in pick­le­ball can stress the rota­tor cuff, lead­ing to pain and dis­com­fort. Overuse, poor tech­nique and lack of warm-up can increase the risk of this injury.

Treat­ment for Rota­tor Cuff Strains

If you expe­ri­ence shoul­der pain, it’s impor­tant to rest and avoid repet­i­tive over­head activ­i­ty. Ice, gen­tle motion and strength­en­ing exer­cis­es can help reduce dis­com­fort. Phys­i­cal ther­a­py may also be rec­om­mend­ed for more severe or lin­ger­ing cas­es. A prop­er warm up, includ­ing light car­dio­vas­cu­lar and range of motion exer­cis­es, in addi­tion to prop­er tech­nique, can reduce the risk of rota­tor cuff injury. If the pain lingers for sev­er­al weeks or you are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty lift­ing your arm away from your body, come in for evaluation. 

Yikes, My Knee!” – Patel­lar Tendinitis

The repet­i­tive jump­ing and squat­ting motions in pick­le­ball can strain the patel­lar ten­don, caus­ing patel­lar ten­dini­tis, com­mon­ly known as jumper’s knee.” This can result in pain and swelling around the knee, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to move around the court.

Treat­ment for Patel­lar Tendinitis

Rest is cru­cial to allow the inflamed ten­don to heal. Apply­ing ice, gen­tle stretch­ing and strength­en­ing exer­cis­es can also help relieve the pain. Wear­ing knee sleeves or using patel­lar straps can pro­vide addi­tion­al sup­port and reduce strain on the ten­don. Return to play slow­ly, grad­u­al­ly increas­ing the fre­quen­cy, inten­si­ty and dura­tion of each ses­sion over sev­er­al weeks. Per­haps the most impor­tant part of man­ag­ing patel­lar ten­dini­tis is an appro­pri­ate warm up before the game starts. 

Ouch, My Back!” – Low­er Back Strains

The repet­i­tive twist­ing, bend­ing and reach­ing motions in pick­le­ball can stress the mus­cles and lig­a­ments of the low­er back, lead­ing to low­er back pain. Poor pos­ture, lack of core sta­bil­i­ty and sud­den move­ments can increase the risk of back injuries on the court.

Treat­ment for Low­er Back Strains

Rest, ice and over-the-counter pain med­ica­tion can help alle­vi­ate acute back pain. Gen­tle stretch­ing, strength­en­ing exer­cis­es and prac­tic­ing good pos­ture can also pro­mote heal­ing and pre­vent future injuries. It’s impor­tant to engage your core mus­cles and main­tain a neu­tral spine posi­tion dur­ing pick­le­ball games to reduce the risk of injury. It is imper­a­tive to con­tin­ue gen­tle motion through the spine dur­ing treat­ment even if this caus­es some mild dis­com­fort. Referred pain into the legs, numb­ness or tin­gling are all rea­sons to seek med­ical attention. 

Just like any phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, pick­le­ball comes with the risk of injuries. Sprained ankles, rota­tor cuff strains, patel­lar ten­dini­tis and low­er back strains are some of the com­mon pick­le­ball injuries that play­ers may encounter.

By fol­low­ing some sim­ple tips and tak­ing pre­cau­tions, you can keep your pick­le­ball game strong and min­i­mize the risk of injuries. Remem­ber to wear sup­port­ive shoes, warm up and cool down prop­er­ly, prac­tice good tech­nique and lis­ten to your body. 

If you over­do it in your next pick­le­ball match, our orthopaedic team will help get you off the side­lines and back in the game safe­ly. Sched­ule a same-day appoint­ment with a Duly Ortho Now provider today.

  • My goal is to help patients keep moving. It is not only my job to understand their condition, but also how that condition is disrupting the specific leisure time, occupational or household activities they perform. With this in mind, I am able to provide evidence based, non-operative treatment options that fit their lifestyle and allow them to continue doing the things that they love or are required to do.