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  • Writer's pictureFoot & Ankle Specialists of Az

Common Pickleball Injuries & How To Prevent Them


Woman playing pickleball on court.


Pickleball has been rapidly expanding across Arizona, and so have the reported injuries that come with it. Arizona is the first state to have a team-based pickleball league, going from 6 teams to over 350 teams in only 4 years. We'll break down some of the most common foot and ankle related injuries that occur with pickleball and what you can do to prevent them.


Calf Strains


Calf strains occur when you strain a calf muscle from either repeated movements or an explosive movement that caused your muscle to feel like there was a sharp pain that some describe as being "kicked" in the calf. Calf strains should be monitored carefully and if the muscle is not showing signs of recovery, a professional can help diagnose and create a treatment plan to help aid recovery.


Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis is a very common injury among pickleball players. The band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your feet can become inflamed, and typically happens from overuse of the foot. Pickleball is a sport that is usually played for several hours across multiple matches and this can be very demanding on the feet. If you have taken steps to get rid of plantar fasciitis and the pain that comes with it but have not experienced any relief, a medical professional can help find the root cause and get your feet back on track.


Ankle Sprains


Ankle sprains are another common pickleball injury. The style of play that pickleball lends itself to is short, rapid bursts of energy and movement. These can lead to situations where you trip and fall, your shoe comes loose, you overestimated your time to react or many other scenarios that cause ankle sprains. Usually ankle sprains can be treated at home using the R.I.C.E method, but other times you may need a doctor if your sprain is not improving or the pain is worsening. It is important to talk to a medical professional as ankle sprains that are left untreated can become chronic pain and can interfere with your ability to have a full range of motion in your ankle.


Achilles Injuries


Achilles injuries is an umbrella term for several achilles related injuries including a ruptured achilles tendon, achilles tendinitis, and achilles tendinosis. Tendinitis is caused by overuse or starting an activity too aggressively or without warming up. Tendinosis is when tendinitis has become worse and can appear as small tears or nodules on the achilles. Treatment for these two types of achilles injuries are similar with rest and/or physical therapy being the main course of action. A ruptured achilles tendon is the worst case scenario for an achilles injury. Common in pickleball, the achilles tendon will tear and you may hear a "pop". The pain is sharp at first but usually dies down to a strong or dull ache. Treatment is either surgery or a boot to immobilize movement and let your body heal naturally. Talking with your doctor ensures you get the best treatment plan to recover as fast as possible to be able to play pickleball again and return to your daily activities.


Prevention


Injuries like the ones above are all very common in not only pickleball, but also other sports and jobs that require lots of movement. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent lots of these injuries to make sure you stay healthy and on the court!


Proper footwear is crucial to maintaining healthy feet and preventing injury. Footwear that is supportive and designed with arch support will help keep your feet in tip-top shape. A good shoe will have limited slip and will snugly fit your foot without suffocating it. Running shoes do not always work the best for pickleball as the frequent side-to side movements needed to play the game require more ankle support. A shoe like a court shoe or hybrid shoe that offers more ankle support can offer better protection for your feet and ankles on the court.


Creating a warmup routine that works for you is a very important step before any intense physical activity including pickleball. Prioritize warming up areas that feel extra stiff and be sure to include stretches that workout areas where you may already feel warm or like it is not necessary. Taking care of your body before anything happens is the best way to stay healthy.


Knowing your limits is another part of any sport that is important to have a grasp on before jumping into it. Having a good idea of your skill level, and what you are and are not able to do, helps you have fun when the time comes so that you are prepared to play at your level. Often times, injuries occur when someone overestimates their ability to play the sport and in turn, becomes injured because they did not asses their abilities before jumping into a sport.


Pickleball is a great low impact sport to get some good exercise in and improve your skills! When paired with the proper shoes and a warmup routine, you can enjoy pickleball pain free! However, accidents happen and no one is perfect. If you run into foot and ankle pain on the court or feel like anything you read above might apply to you, give us a call so to help get you back up and running! Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona has over 5 locations so wherever you choose to get a game in, we're there for you! Contact us today for local valley foot and ankle care you can trust.


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