Pickleball & Injuries, Why are there so many? - Acupuncture Health Minute
It is no secret that the new hybrid sport pickleball is a spirited and intense sport. A competitive cross between ping pong and tennis is having many players pushing harder and further than they normally would. The unique use of paddles with a whiffle ball has captured America's attention as it is easy for a beginner to pick up and highly social. Competitive sports have a potential for injury, and pickleball is no exception.
The five most common pickleball injuries are:
1. Sprained Ankle
2. Knee strains
3. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
4. Wrist Sprain
5. Elbow Tendonitis
It is important to note that eye injuries do occur from a direct hit from the ball or paddle. Head injuries are possible if a player looses balance, falls, and hits their head from changing direction to quickly or running back on their heals. These particular injuries should be evaluated immediately.
5 guidelines to preventing injury
1. Know your limitations: physical - endurance - agility - strength - activity level
The "Weekend Warrior" player is between 40 - 60 years old, and works out one to two time a week. Their joints that have natural wear and tear over the years, and deconditioning has impacted their coordination and stamina. Instead of hitting the court hard with highly competitive matches, start out slow and gradually build up to playing competitively.
The "Wyle-E-Coyote" player is any age, and will do anything to beat a better player. As this does not work out of Wyle-E-Coyote, this does not work out well for many pickleball players as well. Pushing to far beyond ones physical abilities can cause muscle and tendon tears, or even broken bones if there is a fall. Suggesting to play less competitively would fall on deaf ears to this serious player. Changing the win from the battle (a match) to winning the war (who has the least injuries at the end of the season). Knowing ones body, how far to push it, and prevent injury is a skill that should be the concentration of this player. Sitting on the bench with an injury does not win anything.
In general all players should Avoid pushing past their limitations to quickly and often. Listen to the body and go slow. Keep in mind any pre-existing conditions that can flare up or be re-injured such as arthritis. Go ahead and use a brace to support any joint that is problematic.
2. Warming-up before playing and Cooling-down after the match
It is highly recommended to stretch all of the major muscles for at least 15 minutes before any activity and manipulate all of the joints. This gets the body ready for activity, and mitigates the risk of injury. Stretching and walking after the workout helps to move the lactic acid out of the muscles and reduces recovery time between exercise.
3. Be kind to your feet, get the right shoes!
There are shoes for tennis or pickleball specifically designed to diminish the chance for injury.
Save your wrist and elbow with a properly sized paddle handle to prevent tendinitis.
4. Form is important!
I may seem fun to just pick up a paddle and smash the ball with all of your arm strength, but this is putting to much strain on one appendage. Play with the entire body. the stroke should come from the legs, translate through the hips, into the upper body, and extend through the arm.
It may be easy to just pick up a paddle and play, but taking the time to adopt correct form matters. This will generate a lot of power, provide you with a whole body work out, and help prevent injuries.
5. After the match recovery is not a Beer!
While warm-ups and cool-downs are key for after the match recovery, it does not stop there. It is normal to have some soreness after playing a sport, especially if someone is out of shape.
Daily water intake, nutrition, supplementation, and sleep are important for the immune system to repair the body after exercise. BEMER therapy can also help to reduce recovery time. Space out your matches taking into consideration that your body needs time to recovery.
What if injury happens?
RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - in the short term.
The use of ice should be limited to 15 minutes on 15 minutes off for a total of an hour. This is stop any internal bleeding/bruising and lower inflammation.
If symptoms persist or are serious, seek medical attention.
For help healing the injury and increasing the speed of recovery Acupuncture, herbal topical liniments and plasters, BEMER therapy, Asian Body Work, and Point Injection Therapy can be a Game Changer. See Dr. Kitt at AcuMed Wellness & Acupuncture on St Armands Circle in Sarasota for any sports injury that is slowing down your game. She offers a 15 minute free evaluation to discuss how Integrative Medicine can help you.