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Pickles, Paddles, and Pulled Calves

Updated: 2 days ago

A Physical Therapist's Guide on How to Manage and Prevent Common Ankle Injuries in Pickleball. This workshop will be covering the most common ankle/foot related injuries sustained while playing pickleball. We will be covering the most common causes and symptoms of these injuries as well as delving into the treatment and of prevention of these injuries. We will also be giving example warm-ups and a strength and mobility program designed for the pickleball enthusiast.

Link to the full workshop video is HERE!

Common Ankle Injuries:

Calf Strain/Pulled Calf

  • Causes

    • Overstretching/overusing the calf muscles

    • Sudden stop-and-go movements

    • Not warming up properly before exercise

    • Wearing improper footwear during activities

    • Faulty lower extremity mechanics

  • Symptoms

    • Pain in the back of the lower leg

    • Swelling and redness

    • Difficulty moving the leg and decreased mobility

    • Bruising (in severe cases)

  • Treatment

    • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

    • Over-the-counter pain medications

    • Wrapping or compression bandages

    • Physical therapy

    • Surgery (for complete muscle tears)

  • Prevention

    • Proper warm-up and stretching before exercise

    • Wearing appropriate footwear for activities

    • Gradually increasing intensity of exercise

    • Maintaining calf flexibility and strength

    • Staying hydrated

Ankle sprains 

  • Causes 

    • Quick lateral movements 

    • Landing awkwardly after a jump 

    • Playing on uneven surfaces (outdoor courts > indoor courts) 

    • Faulty lower extremity mechanics 

  • Symptoms 

    • Pain, swelling, bruising 

    • Difficulty bearing weight 

    • Limited range of motion 

  • Treatment 

    • Ankle bracing or taping 

    • Strengthening foot/ankle  

    • Strengthening hip/knee for stabilization 

  • Prevention 

    • Proper warmup and stretching 

    • Strengthening of lower extremity 

    • Wearing proper court shoes with good lateral support 

Achilles tendinitis/tear/rupture 

  • Causes 

    • Overuse from repetitive jumping/pushing off 

    • Tight calf muscles 

    • Faulty lower extremity mechanics 

  • Symptoms 

    • Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon 

    • Swelling, bruising (in case of rupture) 

  • Treatment 

    • RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)

    • Immobilization or surgery (in case of severe tear or full rupture) 

    • Physical therapy for stretching and strengthening 

  • Prevention 

    • Proper warmup and stretching (pre and post playing) 

    • Calf/ankle strengthening 

    • Gradually increasing activity level (don’t just jump in) 

Plantar fasciitis 

  • Causes 

    • Overuse from repetitive jumping/running 

    • Tight calf muscles 

    • Improper footwear 

    • Faulty lower extremity mechanics  

  • Symptoms 

    • Pain in the heel or arch of the foot 

    • Worse with first steps in the morning or after longer periods of rest 

  • Treatment 

    • Stretching  

    • Strengthening 

    • Addressing mechanics 

    • Night splints in some cases 

    • Orthotics/proper footwear 

  • Prevention 

    • Proper warmup and stretching 

    • Strengthening lower extremity 

    • Proper footwear with good arch support  

What constitutes a proper warmup?  

  • Not just getting your body moving 

  • You should break a sweat – this means are muscles are increasing in temperature 

  • You want to do similar movements that you will be doing in your activity, but you want to reduce the force – think of gradually increasing the intensity to allow your muscles/joints to get used to the movement so they are ready to go when you need them 

  • Static stretching is not optimal for a warm-up alone – remember we want to increase the temperature of your muscles! 

Sample warm up can be found below

Pickleball Warm Up HEP
Download PDF • 208KB

Strengthening and mobility exercises can be found below

Pickleball Strength and Mobility HEP
Download PDF • 282KB


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