Common Injuries from Playing Pickleball

Common Injuries from Playing Pickleball ?

Safeguarding the Court: Common Injuries from Playing Pickleball



Pickleball, the beloved hybrid of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has surged in popularity in recent years, captivating players of all ages and skill levels. With its accessible rules and relatively low barrier to entry, it’s no wonder that pickleball courts are bustling with activity. However, like any sport, pickleball comes with its own set of risks. Injuries, though usually minor, can occur, impacting players’ enjoyment and potentially sidelining them from the game. In this post, we’ll delve into some of the most common injuries encountered on the pickleball court and explore ways to prevent them.


  1. Ankle Sprains:

Ankle sprains are perhaps the most prevalent injury in pickleball, often resulting from sudden changes in direction, pivoting, or landing awkwardly after jumping for a shot. The quick lateral movements inherent in pickleball can strain the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint, leading to sprains of varying severity. To mitigate the risk of ankle sprains, players should focus on maintaining proper footwork, wearing supportive footwear, and warming up adequately before play. Strengthening exercises targeting the ankles can also help improve stability and reduce the likelihood of injury.


-R.I.C.E. Method: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Encourage the injured player to rest the affected ankle, apply ice packs for 15-20 minutes every few hours, use compression bandages to reduce swelling, and elevate the ankle above heart level when possible.

-Immobilization: In cases of severe sprains, immobilizing the ankle with a brace or splint may be necessary to prevent further injury.

-Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

-Rehabilitation: Once the acute phase has passed, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can aid in the recovery process. Physical therapy may be recommended for more severe sprains to regain full range of motion and strength.

  1. Tennis Elbow:

Despite its name, tennis elbow is not exclusive to tennis players; pickleball enthusiasts are also susceptible to this overuse injury. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, manifests as pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, often exacerbated by repetitive motions such as swinging the paddle. To prevent tennis elbow, players should ensure proper paddle grip and technique, avoiding excessive wrist flicking or gripping too tightly. Incorporating forearm strengthening exercises and taking regular breaks during play can also help alleviate strain on the elbow joint.


-Rest: Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain, particularly those involving gripping or repetitive wrist movements.

-Ice Therapy: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

-Bracing: Wearing a counterforce brace or elbow strap can help alleviate strain on the tendons by redistributing forces.

-Physical Therapy: Eccentric strengthening exercises and manual therapy techniques can help rehabilitate the affected muscles and improve flexibility and function.

  1. Shoulder Strain:

The dynamic nature of pickleball requires frequent overhead shots and serves, placing considerable demand on the shoulder muscles and joints. Over time, repetitive overhead movements can lead to shoulder strain or even more serious injuries such as rotator cuff tears. To protect the shoulders, players should prioritize proper technique, utilizing the larger muscle groups of the legs and core to generate power rather than relying solely on the arm. Additionally, maintaining shoulder flexibility through stretching exercises and incorporating shoulder-strengthening routines can help prevent overuse injuries.


-Rest and Ice: Similar to other soft tissue injuries, rest and ice can help reduce inflammation and pain in the shoulder.

-Anti-inflammatory Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide relief from pain and swelling.

-Physical Therapy: A tailored rehabilitation program focusing on strengthening the shoulder muscles, improving range of motion, and correcting biomechanical imbalances can facilitate recovery.

-Modalities: Modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or therapeutic taping may be utilized to reduce pain and promote healing.

  1. Knee Injuries:

Pickleball involves a combination of quick lateral movements, sudden stops, and low-to-the-ground shots, placing strain on the knees and surrounding structures. Common knee injuries in pickleball include strains, sprains, and even more severe ligament tears such as ACL injuries. To safeguard against knee injuries, players should pay attention to their body mechanics, avoiding sudden jerky movements and ensuring proper knee alignment during lateral movements. Wearing supportive knee braces, especially for those with a history of knee problems, can provide additional stability and protection on the court.


-Immobilization: For severe knee injuries such as ligament tears, immobilization with a brace or splint may be necessary initially.

-Physical Therapy: A structured physical therapy program focusing on strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee, improving stability, and restoring range of motion is essential for recovery.

-R.I.C.E. Protocol: Similar to ankle sprains, the R.I.C.E. protocol can be beneficial in managing acute knee injuries.

-Orthopedic Consultation: Severe knee injuries may require surgical intervention, followed by comprehensive rehabilitation under the guidance of an orthopedic specialist.

  1. Muscle Strains and Sprains:

As with any sport, muscle strains and sprains are a risk in pickleball, particularly in the lower body muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. These injuries can occur during explosive movements, sudden changes in direction, or when reaching for difficult shots. To reduce the likelihood of muscle strains, players should prioritize a thorough warm-up routine, incorporating dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to prepare the muscles for activity. Adequate hydration and proper nutrition can also support muscle function and resilience during play.



-R.I.C.E. Protocol: As with other soft tissue injuries, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are the initial steps in managing muscle strains and sprains.

-Gentle Stretching: Once the acute phase has passed, gentle stretching exercises can help promote healing and prevent stiffness.

-Gradual Return to Activity: It’s essential to allow adequate time for the injured muscle to heal before gradually returning to pickleball or other physical activities.

-Massage and Heat Therapy: Massage therapy and heat packs can aid in relieving muscle tension and promoting blood flow to the injured area.


While pickleball is generally considered a low-impact sport, injuries can still occur, impacting players’ performance and enjoyment. By understanding the common risks and implementing preventive measures such as proper technique, adequate warm-up, and conditioning exercises, players can minimize the likelihood of injury and prolong their enjoyment of the game. Remember, staying mindful of your body’s signals and respecting its limits are essential aspects of staying injury-free on the pickleball court.

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