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8 Pickleball Injuries Prevention Tips for Harlem Residents

If you haven’t yet heard of pickleball, or padel, you might not realize it’s a super fun sport that blends elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong into a game that’s easy to learn. It’s a lot of fun to play, especially for older adults who want to improve their balance, strength, and agility. Still, as with any sport, the risk of injury exists if you don't know how to protect yourself.

With the sport on the rise, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that physical therapy in Harlem, New York, often sees pickleball injuries hobble through the doors. Some injuries are preventable; others aren’t.

Below, Park North Physical Therapy explains a few tips for preventing pickleball injuries so that you can enjoy the game anytime.

Most Common Types of Pickleball Injuries in Harlem

Sports injuries come in all types and severities. Even a game as easy and lighthearted as pickleball can cause serious injuries to the musculoskeletal systems of Harlem players. Let’s look at some common concerns.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is one of the most common overuse injuries in tennis, golf, and, now, pickleball. Repetitive gripping and swinging movements cause tendon strain in the forearms.

It takes time to develop this condition. That’s why it's common among long-time players.

Sprained Ankle

Quick back-and-forth movements and fast stops that players make to strike the pickleball often cause them to trip, which leads to sprained ankles. Often, your ankle twists as you change direction and turn your feet.

A bone fracture could occur in severe situations. Muscle sprains are more common.

Achilles Tendonitis

Sprains aren't the only pickleball injuries; you could also experience Achilles tendonitis.

With this condition, the Achilles tendon that runs up the back of your foot and leg could develop painful inflammation due to aggressive ankle movements.

Lower Back Pain

Pickleball is a low-impact game. However, it might surprise new and inexperienced players how much movement it involves. As such, many people experience lower back pain after a fast or more challenging game.

Typically, the pain stems from poor posture while twisting the spine and turning quickly. Moving and bending without supporting your spine could trigger sharp or dull, radiating pain in your lower back.

Shoulder Injuries

Are you an experienced pickleball player? You likely hit the ball often using overhead serves and heavy swings.

Like tennis elbow, shoulder-related pickleball injuries occur from overusing soft tissues. The swinging motion puts undue stress on the shoulder joint, causing strains and tears in the rotator cuff muscles.

Wrist Strains

You might not think a lightweight pickleball game could strain your wrist, but some hits demand precise wrist movement and control instead of force. This control factor puts strain on your shoulder. Then, as you swing the paddle back and forth, you constantly readjust your grip on the handle, which can cause wrist strain.

Wrist strains are terribly uncomfortable. You won’t enjoy playing pickleball with this type of injury.

Hamstring Strains

Your hamstring muscles run down the back of your thighs, from the hip to slightly below your knees. As you run, you engage this muscle. However, fast stops and lunges pull and can strain your hamstrings.

Unfortunately, hamstring strains and tears are painful. Pickleball players may get this injury, but so can anyone who runs or lunges often without warming up and conditioning their muscles.

Knee Strains

You don't have to have a history of bad knees to get a knee injury playing pickleball. Any sport requiring quick directional changes and stops stresses knee joints.

Repetitive movements can also cause achy knees, leading to limited mobility.

Tips for Preventing Injuries While Playing Pickleball

So, there are a lot of injuries possible with pickleball. Thankfully, Harlem residents can still enjoy playing the sport with a few precautions to avoid preventable pickleball injuries.

In particular, physical therapy can give you the tools and tactics to improve your balance, coordination, stamina, and muscle strength. That way, you’ll play pickleball with minimal risk of injury. Physical therapy helps in several ways, such as:

  • Individualized assessments. Physical therapists learn your strengths, weaknesses, and patterns to pre-empt your potential sports injuries and strains.
  • Tailored exercise programs. Physical therapy can strengthen specific muscle groups and improve your techniques and movements while playing.
  • Warmups and cooldowns. Your physical therapist will show you how to effectively warm up, cool down, and train your body to play pickleball injury-free.

Another benefit of physical therapy is the tips you receive to protect yourself while playing this popular low-impact sport. Consider the following:

Knee Injury

What’s the best way to avoid knee injuries while playing pickleball in Harlem? Stretch and warm up before each game!

  • Improving hamstring and quadricep muscle strength prevents tears.
  • Sometimes, a knee brace provides extra support and stability.

Upper Extremity Injuries

Shoulder, hand, wrist, and elbow injuries abound among pickleball players. Preparation before a game is key to injury prevention.

  • Practice holding and swinging your pickleball paddle properly.
  • Don’t overextend your body while hitting the ball.

Participating in other physical activities, like walking and biking, also helps with better balance and stamina. This is crucial for preventing falls that could injure your upper extremities.

Back and Hip Injuries

Often, picking up pickleball injuries happens when you don’t stretch for several minutes beforehand.

  • Focus your stretching on your core, hips, back, and legs.
  • Consider different core strengthening exercises to improve your posture and minimize the strain on your lower back.

Get Help for Your Pickleball Injuries in Harlem From Park North Physical Therapy

Preventing sport-related injuries becomes easier the more you understand how injuries occur. With pickleball, muscle strain and overuse injuries are common, especially among older adults. The above prevention tips can undoubtedly protect you from harm, but if you develop any pickleball injuries in Harlem, New York, don’t wait to see experienced therapists like those at Park North Physical Therapy.

Our medical facility’s long-standing reputation is why our services have benefitted the Harlem community’s health and wellness with a goal-oriented approach to recovery. Let’s utilize innovative physical medicine to achieve your goals—call (212) 222-6525 today for Park North Physical Therapy’s information.