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September 25, 2021

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Mid-week doctor: Staying active and preventing injuries

RICE is an important part of your recovery • R-rest, I-ice, C-compression, E-elevation

By Laura Durliat, occupational therapist
Blanchard Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Are you one of the many that have headed out to the pickleball court? 

Pickleball is certainly entertainment, socialization and physical activity for so many of all ages. This game is growing in popularity due to the game’s competitiveness, socialization and low impact form of exercise. With this activity, unfortunately, comes the opportunity for many aches, pains and injuries. As with any physical activity, injuries can happen. Common injuries include wrist fractures from falls on an outstretched hand, pickleball elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, an overuse injury, shoulder sprain/impingements, Achilles tendinitis and heel bruises.

If an injury occurs, it is important to let your body recover. Know when to put your paddle down and rest. RICE is an important part of your recovery. R-rest, I-ice, C-compression and E-elevation. 

If conditions are severe or continue to persist, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and begin a good rehabilitation program to return to your game of pickleball. Once you are ready to return from an injury, it is important to ease back into your game and pace.

As with any activity, injury prevention and smart play are important to stay on the court. So how can you prevent an injury? Prevention begins with a good shoe. Court shoes are important to your play. 

Unlike running shoes, which grip and stick when attempting to run and pivot, court shoes will allow you to move more freely on the court, causing less twisting, torque and injury to your knees, hips and ankles.

Next, select a racquet that fits your hand and has a large grip to decrease your elbow/shoulder strain. Proper form on your swing is important to overall body mechanics. Be sure to use power from your legs with your swing and your body rotation. Remember, when breathing, use your diaphragm.

Additionally, prior conditioning, core strength, and regular cardiovascular exercise all decrease your risk for injury and lead to success on the court. Before starting daily play, be sure to complete warm-up stretches and warm-up walking. It is also important to learn how to roll and fall rather than extending your arm to catch yourself when playing.

Lastly, ensure that you are hydrated during play and eat a snack for recovery after play.

Hopefully, following these guidelines will allow for some fun court time with friends and decrease your risk of injuries. Keep on playing and staying in shape with pickleball!