The sport of Pickleball is gaining popularity across the province and country. Pickleball is similar to tennis, with a few variations. A pickleball ball moves slower than a tennis ball and resembles that of a whiffle ball. Pickleball is played indoors and outdoors on a similar sized court as badminton, and the net is then lowered to make it accessible for “picklers” of all ages and skill levels.
As with many racquet sports, there comes a potential risk of injury. The most common injuries affiliated with Pickleball include, ankle sprains, achilles, quadriceps, or hamstring strains, as well as shoulder impingement and wrist tendinitis. With that being said, these injuries are typically easy to prevent and can be managed independently or with the help of your local physiotherapist to keep you engaged and active in all your racquet sports.
Here are some helpful tips to lower your risk of injury this Pickleball season:
1. Proper warm-up & cool-down
As with any sport, a proper warm-up and cool-down is required for Pickleball. You can start with some gentle jogging across your side of the court to elevate your heart rate, followed by high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges and side shuffles. Gentle dynamic stretches to help loosen up your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes and back will aide in your lower body mobility, as well as shoulder, elbow, and wrist range of motion drills to loosen up your upper body. You can then proceed with some partner rallies, or “dinking” to help properly prepare your body for action.
2. Regular hydration
Hydration is essential both on and off the court. As the sport of Pickleball can be played outdoors under the hot sun, as well as indoors in humid courts, drinking enough fluids before and after matches is crucial for injury prevention and performance. The amount of water each player needs to consume daily will vary on the number of matches being played. In general, you should aim to drink at least 5-6 glasses of water per day.
3. Appropriate protective equipment
There is a variety of equipment that is utilized in the sport of Pickleball. Firstly, a supportive pair of court shoes can aid in the prevention of foot, ankle, and lower leg injuries. Athletic attire is always best to provide maximal mobility when on the court. Protective eyewear can also be helpful to avoid being struck by a firmly hit ball. Lastly, the use of braces or taping can be utilized to help unload forces on particularly vulnerable body parts (i.e., elbow or ankle braces).
4. General conditioning & regular exercise
Whether you are new to the sport, or a seasoned veteran, being in good physical shape will help you to enjoy the sport of Pickleball with minimal injuries. Having a good cardio base, as well as adequate strength, mobility, balance, and endurance are all important in the prevention of injury and the enhancement of performance.
Here are a few general exercises you can perform to help prevent some common Pickleball injuries:
1. Wrist Extensor Stretch
Extend one arm out in front with the elbow straight. Use the other hand to grasp it at the side of the thumb and bend the wrist downward. Turn wrist towards the small finger to increase the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds or up to 1-2 minutes.
2. Calf Stretch
Stand and place one foot against the wall. Place the other leg behind with your heel on the ground, foot parallel to the front one and knee straight. Keep the torso upright and push the hips forward to feel a stretch in your lower leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds or up to 1-2 minutes.
3. Quadriceps Stretch
Stand in front of a chair or wall for support if needed. Grab the top of one ankle with one hand and pull your foot towards your buttock until you feel a gentle stretch in front of the thigh. Keep your back straight and relaxed. Hold for 20-30 seconds or up to 1-2 minutes.
4. Groin Stretch
Sit down and bring your heels together as close as possible to your hips. Grab your toes with your hands to pull the torso forward to feel a comfortable stretch in the groin/inner thigh. Hold for 20-30 seconds or up to 1-2 minutes.
Should you experience an injury during a game of Pickleball or any other racquet sport and require some guidance on your road to recovery, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic and book any appointment with one of our highly trained physiotherapists who would be happy to assist you.
Pickleball is becoming quite popular in the city of Kingston, with many local parks, clubs and facilities
offering courts for players to take advantage of. Kingston, ON. is the host city for the upcoming 2022
Canadian Pickleball Championships being held on June 22 nd to 26 th at the Invista Centre and Kingston
Michael O’Meara, Registered Physiotherapist and Sport Physiotherapy Canada Diploma Holder is acting on behalf of K-TOWN Physiotherapy as the Chief Therapist for the event. Along with the help of Queen’s physiotherapy students and other medical volunteers, Michael and his team hope to keep all the local, provincial, and national-level picklers safe during this month’s competition.
Follow along on Michael’s Instagram, @omeara.physio for updates throughout the 2022 Canadian Pickleball Championships.
Written by: Michael O’Meara, Registered Physiotherapist