What is Pickleball & Preventing Injuries While Playing
In this piece we will discuss:
- Pickleball’s history
- Steps to avoid injury while enjoying your sport
- The benefits & Importance of the right Footwear, Orthotics, Socks and Compression Garments to keep you active and enjoying your favorite game
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US. It is a sport that almost any age group can enjoy including the older senior population, as keeping active as a senior is tops on the list for physical, mental, and emotional health. This sport is a hybrid, combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Let us dive into some history of the sport, some basics of the game and ways to enjoy Pickleball well into your 80’s through proper foot and joint care.
Pickleball was invented in the 1960’s as a backyard game. More specifically, in 1965, the game began its journey to where it is now in Bainbridge Island, WA. Three individuals, after their game of golf, found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They went for badminton but had no shuttlecocks. Finding a wiffle ball and improvising by lowering the badminton net and making paddles out of plywood, the game of Pickleball was created.
How Big Has Pickleball Gotten?
Pickleball has gotten so big here in the US, there is an organization overseeing it.
USA Pickleball has a website that you can visit and find anything and everything from playing the sport, tournaments, and other fun stuff. In essence of time, I won’t go into the details on playing Pickleball but I recommend you visit USA Pickleball-everything you would want to know is here: Pickleball Basics.
Now let us focus on the health aspects of playing this sport. Pickleball is not only fun, but a great way to get in your daily exercise. But like any other sport, care should be taken to avoid injuries. There are many considerations when it comes to preventing injuries. I’m a Certified Pedorthist so my specialty is the feet and ankles, but everything below is applicable to the knees, hips, back, elbows and wrists. I’ll first break down Pre-Match and Post Match steps to take for injury prevention, then dive into more detail on Footwear, Orthotics, Socks and Compression/Bracing.
Pre-Match Steps to take for injury prevention
USA Pickleball has outlined and recommended best practices from sports medicine guidelines pre-play injury prevention steps to take:
- Warming Up: Warm up with 5 to 7 minutes of a cardio activity that fits your fitness level. Some ideas are jogging in place or walking around the court.
- Stretching: Stretch your arms, legs, back and shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat 2-3 times. It is best to perform stretches after you’ve warmed up so the blood is flowing.
- Eye Protection: Is highly recommended due to the risk of injury from the balls which are made of a hard polymer that travel at high rates of speed.
- Proper footwear: Wearing the proper shoes for your gait, foot conditions and foot type is important. Footwear is the foundation. If you are not sure what your unique footwear needs are, I can assist. Visit me online at Solelytics or get in touch via my contact information at the end and make an appointment if you are a Virginia resident. I am a Certified Pedorthist specializing in foot assessments, gait analysis, orthotics and footwear and can ensure you’re in the right gear.
Don’t’ get so caught up in your game that you neglect yourself during practice or match play.
- If pain occurs in your feet, knees, hips or back, stop playing and take a break. You can make a minor condition worse if you continue to “play through the pain.”
- Play to your ability, age, and physical condition. Making plays beyond your ability or trying to “Push through the pain” can cause injuries.
- Ensure you’re keeping hydrated before, during, and after matches as well as eating appropriate snacks to keep your body fueled
- Wearing the appropriate Socks and Compression/Bracing can help with performance, comfort and pain relief of minor conditions.
Post-match steps for injury prevention
Your post-play routine is just as important to help your body properly recover and rest.
- Cool down with low-intensity movement like walking to bring your body back to its resting state.
- Repeat your pre-match stretches focusing on longer holds and deeper stretches. Do these slow and stop if there is pain or if you are worried about a potential injury.
- You can wear compression bracing and socks for up to 8 hours after play to help speed the recovery process and reduce swelling.
Other Key Components For Injury Prevention:
Footwear is your foundation. It’s important as it's going to provide you with a solid platform and provide stability and can even help to reduce the instances of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and other conditions. Click here for information on footwear and sizing tips.
Orthotics or arch support are important additions to footwear that will support the foot, better your overall body alignment and provide cushioning. There are many types of OTC insoles on the market from sporting goods stores and other retailers as well as online. Knowing which type of prefabricated orthotic is right for you, considering the number of options, can be hard to navigate. There are also many custom orthotic providers in the market that range in price and quality. I offer a medical grade prefabricated orthotic as well as a couple of Custom Orthotic options. If you’re located in VA I make it EASY, CONVENIENT & AFFORDABLE as I’m mobile, I provide a custom option that can be done during our 1-hour appointment, and I won’t break your pocketbook.
Socks are important as they are the first interface with your feet. But not all socks are equal. The two most important functions of socks are to protect the feet and keep them cool and dry. Below are components of a quality sock and can be found in our Pickleball Sock & other purposeful sock options in our Shop:
- Left/Right design for an anatomical fit
- Seamless to prevent rubbing and irritation
- Compression band to lift and support the plantar fascia
- Cushion where you need it in the heel and ball of the foot
- Air vents to promote air flow and cooling
- Moisture wicking material that is also antibacterial
- Deep heel (Y-Gore heel technology) to ensure sock stays in place
Compression can be a valuable tool for everyone, not just athletes. But again, not all compression garments are the same. You are looking for graduated compression. Graduated compression is a distinct way of knitting so that the strongest level of compression is closer to the distal end of the extremity so that circulation improves towards the heart. Five great reasons to use compression are:
- Reduce pain
- Improve circulation
- Decrease swelling
- Increase support & stabilization
- Decrease recovery time
If you are shopping online or in-store for compression, you will see there are hundreds or even thousands of options available. It is important that you choose the right compression to benefit from it. I have chosen OS1st as my only compression partner and once you have experienced it, you will know why. Below are just some of the benefits of the compression & bracing options my clients know and love:
- Medical Grade
- Manufactured on FDA approved machinery, so you know that you are receiving the compression levels advertised
- Seamless construction
- Soft, moisture wicking materials
- Compression Zone Technology
Pickleball is a sport that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone, any age group and as it is the fastest growing sport in the US, is practically everywhere. But let’s keep you on the court rather than having to deal with injuries and painful conditions. Preventing injuries may be achieved by taking advantage of the guidelines above. My goal is to keep people active and living their best life. Please get in touch if you have any specific questions or concerns- I am here for you!
Bryan Acheson, CPed | (804) 821-1321 | Bryan@solelytics.com
--I am a Board Certified Pedorthist. I am not a medical doctor or Podiatrist. I have been trained and certified in foot assessments, gait analysis, orthotic fabrication and fitting and footwear fitting. As a Certified Pedorthist I cannot diagnose foot conditions nor prescribe remedies for foot conditions. If you are experiencing a severe foot condition or one that is chronic and will not remedy itself after over-the-counter intervention, I always recommend you make an appointment with a Podiatrist or medical professional--