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With the Spring weather in full swing, now is a great time to talk about a popular sport that has taken over all aspects of the country. Pickleball has become a very popular sport among the elderly population over the last 10 years. In this blog, we are going to talk about a couple of common injuries that can occur while playing pickleball and things to look for in order to avoid finding yourself off the court this spring.

Overuse injuries are the most common injuries that occur and are reported from playing pickleball. 

Pickleball elbow  is one of the more common injuries that has been reported by people playing the sport. Pickleball elbow also known as tennis elbow is an inflammation of the extensor tendon within the forearm.  The common sign is pain present within the outer aspect of a person’s elbow as well as pain with completion of wrist extension.   While there are many causes  of pickleball elbow, the more common causes are attributed to lack of strength within the extensor tendon as well as an incorrect backstroke present when attempting to hit a backhand during pickleball. In addition,  weak shoulder muscles have also been shown to cause pickleball elbow. Treatment includes: rest and stopping the activity that produces the symptoms, ice packs to reduce inflammation, and strengthening and stretching exercises.  Prevention of pickleball elbow  can occur through regular strengthening of your wrist and shoulder muscles as well as making sure to warm up and stretch before and after playing pickleball.

Ankle sprains are another common  entry which can occur while playing pickleball due to the side to side movement present during the game as well as moving back and forth while playing. treatment of ankle sprains depends on the grade of the sprain.  If you sprain your ankle while playing pickleball it is recommended that you seek out a physician to examine your ankle.   However, treatment of a grade 1 sprained ankle is very similar to that of treating pickleball elbow. Rest, ice, and compression can be utilized to improve the swelling that may occur.  Then, once the swelling has improved, utilizing stretching and strengthening exercises to improve ankle stability and proprioception will help with reducing the risk of future ankle sprains.

Finally another common injury that can occur while playing pickleball is a hamstring strain.  Hamstring strains can occur also due to the side to side and forward and backward movements that occur while playing the game of pickleball. Prevention of hamstring strains can occur by utilizing  dynamic stretching exercises before going to play as well as stretching following completion of a match.  If you injure your hamstring while playing pickleball it is recommended you are seen by a physician in order to determine the grade of the strain.  A grade 1 hamstring strain treatment involves rest, ice, and compression to reduce swelling present.  Once the pain level has improved, utilizing light stretching and isometric strengthening exercises should be a priority in order to improve dynamic function as well as reduce future injury risk.  

At Advanced Training and Rehab, we treat many different types of pickleball injuries everyday. If you have any questions about a pickleball injury or would like to begin physical therapy, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our 23 clinics across the St. Louis Area. 

ATR: St Louis’s PT Company

Author: John Cichon, PT DPT, OCS at ATR Kirkwood.

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