Across America, pickleball is gaining popularity as a fast-paced, competitive sport for all ages and skill levels.
In fact, pickleball is the new major league sport of choice for many professional athletes. NFL Super Bowl champs Drew Brees and Tom Brady, NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Love and other high-profile stars now own or partner with Major League Pickleball teams.
Invented in 1965, this popular indoor-outdoor sport combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The game can be played as singles or doubles, with two or four players.
Before taking the ready position on the court, players need to protect their bodies from injury.
Stretching May Prevent Rotator Cuff Problems
Like other paddle or racket sports, pickleball requires repetitive movement and motion of your arms and legs. During a game, players use a paddle to hit a plastic ball with holes over a slightly modified tennis net on a badminton-size court.
When making an overhead shot or slam, the force generated by the rotator cuff tendon can cause, aggravate or worsen rotator cuff injuries. The rotator cuff is the group of four muscles and four tendons around the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons work together to provide the range of motion in the shoulder.
Additionally, playing racket sports could lead to other injuries, like meniscus tears, tendon ruptures and aggravation of arthritic knees (MedicalXpress).
To help prevent these repetitive motion injuries, experts say stretching and exercising before playing sports helps to maintain the body’s flexibility and strengthen the muscles.
Doctors in sports medicine advise players to warm up before and ice down after every game. Drinking plenty of water and wearing proper shoes are some additional safety tips to reduce injury.
Pay Attention to Pain Warnings
“Consider seeing a physician if you have pain that gets progressively worse in the shoulder or pain that persists for a long time after your activity,” Bruce Moseley, MD, of the Baylor College of Medicine, told MedicalXpress. “These may be warning signs of a torn rotator cuff tendon, so make sure to get it checked.”
The severity of the pain or injury may determine the treatment needed for a full recovery. Doctor recommendations for a torn rotator cuff tendon may include physical therapy, altering activity, rest, pain medication or injections to reduce inflammation.
If the pain does not respond to nonsurgical methods or the injury worsens, shoulder arthroscopy or other surgery options may be advised.
“The success rate of surgery to permanently fix the problem goes down as the size of the tear goes up …,” Moseley told MedicalXpress. “If we can get to the tear and fix it while it is small, the success rate is much higher.”
Do not let shoulder problems, knee pain or injuries keep you from playing pickleball or other sports you enjoy. Take a minute to request an appointment with your orthopedist for an evaluation.