The WellSpan Spotlight

Fitness and movement

Don’t get in a pickle this summer: avoid pickleball injuries

2024_INET_Pickleball feature photo

Have you tried playing the fastest growing sport in America? 

Pickleball has taken the country by storm and while the sport is fun for all ages and easy to play, there is still the potential for injuries on the court.

Dr. Preya Patel, WellSpan Sports Medicine in Brownstown, says most pickleball injuries take place during the summer months, as this is the time of year most people are outside playing the sport.

According to Dr. Patel, the most common pickleball injuries she sees are:

  • Ankle injuries from abrupt, quick steps during the game
  • Knee sprains 
  • Aggravation of existing arthritis 
  • Hip strains
  • Broken wrist from falling on an outstretched hand
  • General muscle strains

How can you prevent injuries?

“Strengthening is key for prevention of pickleball injuries in general,” says Dr. Patel.

She recommends that pickleball players frequently perform strengthening exercises for the hips and knees. 

Detailed instructions on these exercises can be found at the end of the article. 

Warming up

Dr. Patel highly recommends stretching before playing a game of pickleball, so your body is warmed up and ready for action. 

“Start with some neck stretches by slowly rotating your neck from side to side, then forward and backwards,” says Dr. Patel. “Then you can roll your shoulders forward and backwards.” 

She also suggests stretching out your arm by placing it straight in front of you with the palm up. Use your other hand to gently pull the fingers back towards your body. Do the same with your palm down. 

Adult, Business, Business Person, India, Indian ethnicity,

Squats are another great way to help with core strengthening and loosening up before a game of pickleball.

“All of these stretches are important to remember before playing pickleball so that you can enjoy the game without risk of injury. Don’t forget to have fun!”

If you get yourself in a pickle with a serious pickleball injury this summer, visit one of our experts at WellSpan Sports Medicine. Find the closest location here

See examples of strengthening exercises below:

  • Ankle exercise:
    1. While sitting on the floor or a mat, wrap a towel, strap, or resistance band around the ball of one foot. 
    2. Gently pull the item toward you to flex the foot. Hold the position briefly and then release the tension. 
    3. Repeat on opposite foot.
    4. This exercise strengthens your Achilles tendon. 

      Fit man exercising with an elastic band isolated on white background

  • Quad core strength exercise:
    1. Stand next to a wall or chair for support with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    2. Bend one knee so that your foot goes up towards your glutes. 
    3. Grab your ankle and gently pull it toward your glutes while remaining comfortable. 
    4. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your foot and return to the starting position. 
    5. Switch legs and repeat the exercise.
    6. This exercise helps to prevent knee and hip injuries. 

      Urban workout and running concept. Woman stretching legs for warming up before exercising and climbing stairs.
  • Hamstring core strength exercise:
    1. Lie down on the floor or a mat and straighten both legs. You can bend both knees if it’s more comfortable. 
    2. Lift one leg off the floor and place your hands behind your thigh but below the knee. Gently pull your knee toward your chest until you feel a slight stretch. 
    3. Hold for 30 seconds, then lower and change legs.
    4. This exercise helps to prevent knee injuries. 

      A side view of a Spanish bearded young male in sportswear stretching on the yoga mat at home