How to avoid common injuries on the Pickleball court in Boynton Beach, FL

For decades, people have been flocking to Boynton Beach for sea, sand, and surf. But one sport has claimed dominance in the past few years with snowbirds and locals alike, corralling devotees to the court. And no, it’s not tennis, it’s … Pickleball? Boynton Beach Pickleball!

That’s right! This paddle sport is a fusion between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The rules are similar to table tennis, so it’s easy for most people to pick up. As an exercise, it promotes balance, agility, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination. It’s an especially great alternative in Boynton Beach to tennis, which puts more stress on the body due to a larger court and overhand serves – to name a few. But it doesn’t come without risk to injury, especially if you’re more focused on the socialization of the game rather than the sport of it!

While Pickleball is a much safer alternative to sports like tennis, it’s still got real risks for injury, especially for people in Boynton Beach approaching older age. According to USA Pickleball, more than half of the people who identified as regular Pickleball players were over the age of 55. And for this group, as activity increases, so does the potential for injury. According to a study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), People 50 and older accounted for nearly 91% of the ER visits associate with Pickle Ball injury.

So, what are the most common Pickleball injuries, and how can we prevent them? Read on to hear what a Podiatrist has to say!

  1. Ankle & Foot Fractures  Ankle and foot fractures can happen on the Pickleball court due to the various and sudden movements you exert on the foot during a Pickleball game. Sudden forward, back and side-to-side movements means the foot and ankle are susceptible to “rolling”. Proper court shoes are meant to help prevent this occurrence, but still, ankle and foot fractures, most commonly fifth metatarsal fractures, a.k.a. Jones Fractures, are still prevalent. The process for healing a foot or ankle fracture depends highly on where the fracture has taken place. To learn more about how we treat foot and ankle fractures at County Wide, visit our blog on the topic here.
  2. Peroneal Tendinitis  Two muscles attached to the outside of the leg, known as Peroneals, are responsible for turning the foot out and protecting the ankle from injury. The muscles themselves have tendons that run behind the ankle and attach at the mid-foot. This group of muscles and tendons is usually injured during an ankle sprain, but can also become inflamed due to overuse and acute trauma. In this case, the pain will be experienced just below and in front of the ankle bone. As with any tendonitis, anti-inflammatory medication, icing and rest will help alleviate the pain and restore the area. Custom orthotics can also help prevent recurrence.
  3. Forefoot Pain  In the game of Pickleball, players may often overload the forefoot as they stand in the “ready” position to play. But too much consistent pressure on the forefoot or front of the toes can cause inflammation. When the tendons at the end of the big toe become inflamed, it can cause metatarsalgia, which can be caused by numerous forefoot issues such as: neuromas, plantar plate tearing (ligamental tearing), sesamoiditis (which is irritation of the sesamoids underneath the big toe due to great toe or medial overload), bursitis, or capsulitis (inflammation of the forefoot joints).This can be alleviated with rest, icing and anti-inflammatories. But when the pain exists between the toes, it’s called a Neuroma, which is one of the most common forefoot issues we see with pickleball.
  4. Heel Bruising  A heel bruise is an injury that is sustained over time with repetitive force, referred to as an “overuse injury”. This can happen without the patient knowing it until the pain starts hours or days after. This occurs when the fat pad around the heel experiences irritation or damage. The heel bone itself can also experience bruising. To help heal a heel bruise, Dr. Garzon recommends taking time to rest the heel, keeping weight off of the foot to promote healing. To help alleviate pain and swelling, you can apply ice to the heel in intervals. Taping the heel to add compression helps prevent further injury, and elevating the heel can also alleviate pressure and promote healing. Depending on the severity of the heel bruise, a temporary boot may be suggested.
  5. Achilles Tendonitis  Another overuse injury on the Pickleball court is Achilles Tendonitis, which causes pain in the calf, swelling of the tendon and lower leg stiffness. Two types of Achilles Tendonitis can develop: non-insertional and insertional. They are differentiated by the location of the tendon tear. If not treated, a patient can experience multiple tears. Stretching when the tendon is inflamed can actually make it worse. Therefore, restricting the range of motion with a boot may be administered or a night splint which holds the foot at 90 degrees during rest in order to “passively” stretch the achilles tendon. Physical therapy or at home ROM exercises may be implemented when the inflammation is reduced or eliminated.
  6. Ankle Sprain  Ankle sprains are difficult to avoid as they happen suddenly and without warning. Sprains are common Pickleball injuries, especially inversion sprains, which occur when the foot twists upward and the ankle rolls inward. The most common cause of this injury is poor fitting shoes. In addition to proper footwear, the best way to avoid an ankle sprain is to keep your focus on the court. If or when an ankle sprain does occur, take steps to help it heal quickly, like icing the ankle, keeping it elevated, and resting. Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, bracing may be implemented. It can take days to weeks for a sprain to resolve, but full recovery is best, as recidivism injury can occur easily if excess strain is applied too early, causing further ankle instability and propensity for injury.

Here’s how to help avoid common Pickleball injuries in Boynton Beach this season, as explained by a podiatrist:

  • Stretch! Not stretching is one of the top contributors to athletic injury. Create a pre and post Pickleball stretching routine and commit to it! Try lateral steps, grapevines, high-knee marches, skipping and lunges to loosen muscles.

  • Adopt the sport gradually. Going full-steam into Pickleball play, like any sport, will invariably lead to overuse injury. The best way to help prevent this is to gradually ramp up playtime at the start.

  • Be consistent with your play. Starting and stopping can actually increase the probability of injury and strain on the muscles and tendons of the body.

  • Pay attention while on the court! Pickleball is a wonderfully communal sport, but taking “your eye off the ball” can result in an easily rolled ankle, trip or fall.

  • Wear well-fitting “court” shoes and compression socks to help decrease the propensity for overuse injury.

  • Drink lots of water! Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps in the Boynton Beach, Florida heat and helps hydrate and lubricate the musculoskeletal system.

  • Just like drinking water, eating a balanced diet is a great way to stave off injury as a diet rich with essential fats, vegetables, leafy greens and more can give your muscles and joints the nutrients they need to remain strong and agile.

  • Add supplements to your diet when and where needed to give your body the optimal nutrients to both maintain great physiological health (especially joint health) and to help with injury repair. Even healthy athletes experience normal wear-and-tear on the body through playing sports, so maintaining optimal nutrition is a key function for overall recovery.

Contact a Podiatrist if you’ve sustained a Pickleball injury

If you’ve sustained a Pickleball injury and are looking for diagnostic help or pain relief in Boynton Beach, FL, call County Wide Foot, Ankle & Wound Care Associates and one of our Board Certified Podiatrists, Dr. Desiree Garzon or Dr. Karen Fischborn, will help diagnose your condition and prescribe a protocol to get you back on the court!

Contact our Boynton Beach, Florida office at 561-369-3300 and schedule a diagnostic consultation with Dr. Garzon, DPM, CWSP or Dr. Karen Fischborn, DPM. County Wide Foot, Ankle & Wound Care founder, Dr. Garzon, has extensive experience with foot and ankle trauma, and reconstructive surgery where she serves as Chief Resident at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach, Florida.

To learn more about our practice and the conditions we treat at County Wide Foot, Ankle and Wound Care Associates, visit our services page. To schedule an in-office or virtual appointment, call 561-369-3300, or schedule your appointment online here