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4 Common Pickleball Injuries and How to Fix Them

activelifestyle backpain exerciseprogramming kneepain pickleball shoulderpain Jun 14, 2022

Pickleball has exploded in popularity recently, and if you’re reading this you’re probably one of those raving fans that can’t wait until the next time you play. It’s hard to argue with how much fun it is - that is until you get hurt. Because our passion is helping you feel and perform your best, we’re going to be diving into the 4 most common pickleball injuries we see and exactly how to fix them.


Maybe you’re dealing with a full blown pain or injury that is keeping you from playing the game you love. Or maybe you’re dealing with an ‘annoying’ ache or pain that doesn’t keep you from playing - but also isn’t fun mentally when you start feeling old or broken down.


Either way - there’s hope to bounce back and feel great again. Once you understand why pain starts in the first place and why injuries occur (see our blog Why Do I Keep Getting Hurt for more on this), you’ll realize that pain is not normal nor is it permanent IF you are addressing the root cause.


If you continue to try pain relieving creams, ice/heat, ibuprofen, sleeves/braces, and massage work to address your pain and get you through your games - you’re probably caught in the frustrating cycle we see so many of our clients in when they come to see us.


You get relief for a short period of time, maybe enough to get you through playing, but you’re not seeing any lasting relief. And the more you use those things, the less effective they seem to be. Sound familiar at all? You’re not alone.


The good news? If you move from treating symptoms (AKA pain or inflammation) and move to addressing the real root cause of why you’re pain is there in the first place (AKA proper strength, mobility, and movement) then you can reverse and often eliminate the pain that is slowing you down or keeping you from doing what you love.


Below are 4 of the most common pain and injury that we see keeping people from playing the sport they love: pickleball. For each area of pain or injury, there are 3 exercises that address 3 of the most common limitations we see for each one. We recommend to start trying each of these on your own - while they may (or may not) be specific for you, they are a great starting place. If these aren’t getting you full pain resolution, make sure to fill out a contact form to tell us what’s going on and we can send you additional resources or speak with one of our Docs for a more specific approach.


Let’s dive in and get you feeling and playing your best:


Back Pain

Does your back hurt when bending, twisting, or playing for too long? Or even worse - does it continue to hurt when you’re done playing and going about your regular day to day activities? This can be from arthritis, disc problems, muscle tightness, or nerve problems. This is all too common, but not normal. Below we will address the two areas you need to make sure you’re strong in (your core and your hips) while focusing on improving mobility in your mid back - a common area of tightness for pickleball players:


  • Core


  • Thoracic Mobility


  •  Hip Strength


Elbow Pain

Does your elbow hurt when gripping, swinging, or playing for too long? This can be due to inflammation, medial or lateral epicondylitis (AKA golfers or tennis elbow), or due to the elbow joint. What those with elbow pain or injuries don’t realize is the role that good shoulder strength and mobility play in proper health and function of the elbow. Below you will see those two areas addressed as well as wrist and elbow mobility:


  • Shoulder ROM 


  • Shoulder Strength


  • Wrist and Elbow Mobility


Knee Pain

Does your knee hurt with running, side to side movements, or lunging/squatting for low shots? This could be from arthritis, a meniscus injury, muscle tightness, or ligament injuries. What many don’t realize, is the knee itself is rarely the issue - but more so a lack of strength and mobility through the core and lower body. See below for some of our favorites to start improving your knee pain:


  • Hip Mobility


  • Hip and Knee Strength


  • SL Balance/Hip Strength


Achilles/Ankle Pain

Did you injure your Achilles, roll an ankle, or experience pain with too much running or lateral movements? This is common ground for the sport of pickleball - but some strength and mobility work in the right areas, as well as balance, can help address ankle pain and prevent future injuries. See below for a few of our favorites:


  • Ankle Mobility


  • Ankle Strength


  • SL Balance/Hip Strength


If you try these out for a week or two, you should start to see some improvements in how you’re feeling and performing. If you’re trying these and not seeing quick improvements, you might need a more specific approach with one of our Doctors for a more thorough assessment and treatment plan.


Don’t see your injury listed or looking for quicker and more specific results? Fill out a contact request form, and we will reach out to you to set up a free consultation with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to identify the exact root cause of your pain to address it for good.

Follow the Bulletproof Body Exercise Program - A total fitness program that can be performed anywhere, designed by doctors, to help improve mobility, joint health, and strengthen key postural muscles to help you stay active with less pain or injury

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