Prevention is often the best defence against harm and reduce the incidences of injury. Information is key to staying healthy and active in sports. Ensuring proper techniques and maintaining optimum conditioning is still no guarantee that you will be injury free during your pickleball journey, so it is important to recognize risks to injuries and deal with abnormal functions to muscles or joints. Dealing with injuries at the onset of pain and seeking medical advise on limitations is paramount. You are not helping anyone if you play through the pain. In fact, it just may cause further damage.
COMMON TYPES OF INJURIES
Blisters, sprains, strains, and falls do happen. The most common aliment in today’s beginner athlete is muscle imbalance. This can cause muscle tightness, like, over-torqued piano wires and alter the alignment of the pelvis causing opposing muscle weakness. Pickleball can produce sudden and unexpected actions, so be aware that this can lead to an acute injury – immense mild to moderate pain. Moreover, the addictive nature of Pickleball can build a series of repetitive actions which can lead to a chronic injury over time. Slow and gradual onset of a chronic injury may begin with sore muscles and progressively get worse. It is usually a result of gradual and continued over use of one particular muscle group. Look for signs of mild discomfort that becomes painful after time. This type of pain can progress to severe and may lead to permanent joint or muscle instability and disability. Common areas of pain include: shoulder, hip, knee, and back.
CARE FOR ACUTE INJURIES
Immediate attention to injuries must take place within the first 72 hours. Healing time is reduced with correct and early onset care. The best approach is RICE:
- R – Rest: allowing injury to heal without further aggravation
- I – Ice: reducing inflammation, slow swelling, support healing
- C – Compression: pressure applied will help with swelling
- E – Elevation: raise injured area, to help blood flow away from injury. Ideally, elevate area above the heart.
CAUSES OF CHRONIC INJURIES
Chronic injuries are of the result of muscle imbalance, poor posture, and improper movement or technique. Lack of exercise or compromised muscle and skeletal systems that are not strong enough to maintain repetitive activity. Over-training without proper recovery time puts unnecessary stress on muscles and joints. Improper footwear and sometimes the surface of the playing area may not have adequate support or cushioning.
When the effects of your stresses – physical, social, and psychological, become too demanding, you experience one or all of these symptoms: slow healing, susceptibility to infections, loss of appetite, lethargy and an aversion to training, and/or temperamental attitude, tiredness or chronic muscle soreness. All of these may lead to injury. The old adage, “no pain, no gain”, used back in the 1970’s certainly does not apply today. If there is pain, stop! Never work through pain.
RETURN TO ACTIVITY
It is very important to properly heal before returning to any sport after an injury. Overall, further injury and frustration may occur if you are not physiological and psychological ready to return to playing. Most athletes resist any reduction in training or playing but it is so important for your overall health and well-being. Full Recovery means;
- 100% Range of Motion (R.O.M) and strength,
- Complete absence of swelling and pain,
- The ability to perform all your skills within pickleball sport.
HEAT STRESS DISORDERS
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Acclimatize to the extremes that you may experience in competition play (even friendly games can be stressful), wear proper clothing, and hydrate adequately. If you play inside with limited air conditioning or outdoors in the direct sun – overheating is a risk factor that can impact health with grave complications. Remember to protect your skin and eyes when playing outdoors. Wear a hat, sunglasses with ultra violet block, and sunscreen.