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Returning to Pickleball After a Sports Injury

Fri, Dec 15, 2023

Pickleball is more than just a sport; it’s a passion for many enthusiasts. It’s a rapidly growing sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It’s fun, engaging, and can be quite competitive. But like any sport, it comes with the risk of injury. So, what happens when an injury forces you to take a break from your beloved game? Let’s find out.

Understanding Sports Injuries

Injuries are an unfortunate part of any physical activity. They can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as inadequate warm-ups, poor technique, overuse, or even just an unlucky fall.

Common Pickleball Injuries

With pickleball, players often experience injuries related to the wrist, elbow, knee, and ankle. Common pickleball injuries include the following:

  1. Sprained Ankle: Ankle sprains occur when the ankle’s ligaments are stretched or torn, often due to quick lateral movements on the court.
  2. Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): This condition can affect pickleball players, causing pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow, usually due to repetitive swinging motions.
  3. Rotator Cuff Injuries: Overhead shots and serves can strain the shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles and tendons, leading to injuries like rotator cuff tears or tendonitis.
  4. Knee Injuries: The high-impact nature of pickleball can lead to knee injuries, including ligament sprains or tears, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscus injuries. Severe injuries related to knee arthritis may ultimately need a joint replacement.
  5. Pickleball Shoulder: This is a specific condition caused by the repetitive overhead motion in pickleball, resulting in shoulder pain and potential rotator cuff issues.
  6. Hamstring Strains: Sudden stops, starts, and changes in direction can strain the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh.
  7. Back Injuries: Spinal issues, such as herniated discs or lower back strain, can occur due to the twisting and bending movements involved in pickleball.
  8. Calf Strains: Quick movements and bursts of speed can lead to calf muscle strains.
  9. Wrist Injuries: Players may experience wrist injuries, including sprains or tendonitis, from the impact of hitting the ball or falls on the court.
  10. Achilles Tendonitis: Overuse of the Achilles tendon, often due to rapid directional changes, can lead to inflammation and pain in the calf area, or even an Achilles tendon tear.
  11. Shin Splints: Repetitive running and jumping on the court can result in shin splints, causing pain along the front of the lower leg.

The Recovery Process

Recovering from a sports injury is a journey that requires patience, dedication, and professional medical guidance.

Physical Therapy for Injuries

Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in the recovery process. A skilled therapist will design a personalized rehabilitation plan that includes exercises to strengthen the injured area, improve flexibility, and enhance overall fitness.

Mental Resilience

The mental toll of recovery is often underestimated. It’s natural to feel frustrated or discouraged during the healing process. Maintaining a positive mindset is vital. Make sure to have a supportive network surrounding you, set realistic goals, and keep in mind that setbacks are part of the journey.

Rest and Recuperation

Rest is just as important as therapy. It gives your body the much-needed time to heal and recover.

Returning to Pickleball

Returning to pickleball should be a gradual process. Rushing back into the game can lead to re-injury. Work with an orthopedic specialist to create a structured plan that includes conditioning exercises and skill-building drills. Listen to your body and progress at your own pace.

Assessing Readiness to Return

Knowing when you’re ready to return to play can be tricky. Look for signs like the following:

  • Pain-free movement
  • Restored strength
  • Regained confidence

Preventing Re-Injury

Preventing re-injury is as important as recovering from the initial injury. Warming up properly, using appropriate equipment, and following a regular stretching routine are key factors in injury prevention. Safety on the court should always be a top priority. Start slow, listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity of your play.

Monitoring Progress

Tracking your progress is essential. Periodic check-ups with healthcare professionals can help assess your fitness levels and make necessary adjustments to your recovery plan. Additionally, there are various tools and apps available to help you monitor your performance.

Prevent Future Injuries By Staying Safe on the Court

Safety on the pickleball court is paramount. Be mindful of your movements, practice good sportsmanship, and respect your opponents. By playing responsibly, you can reduce the risk of injuries and ensure a positive experience for everyone.

Warm-Up and Cool-Down Routines

Regular warm-up and cool-down routines can significantly reduce the risk of injury.

Proper Equipment and Technique

Using the right equipment and maintaining proper technique can also help prevent future injuries.

Sports Injury Treatment in the Triangle Region, NC

Injuries are part and parcel of any sport, and pickleball is no exception. However, with the right approach to recovery and prevention, you can safely return to the game you love. Remember, seek professional guidance when needed, be patient with yourself, and rely on the support of your family and friends. The court awaits your triumphant return!

If you’re ready to start your journey back to the pickleball court, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Brett Gilbert, MD of Emerge Ortho today. Dr. Gilbert is board-certified in orthopedic surgery, specializing in the hip and knee — two of the most common joints that get injured during sports like pickleball. So, get back out there, embrace the joy of pickleball, and keep the spirit of the game alive!

You can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert by using our appointment request form, or you can also self-schedule your appointment here.

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