Many people might confuse pickleball and tennis.
However, pickleball is a newer game.
It makes use of a ball and paddle but is still played in a court.
Players find the game to be addicting and explain it to be a combination of tennis and badminton.
Pickleball players also admit that it is much gentler than tennis.
Although, that does not eliminate the risks that come with playing a racquet sport.
A large number of people who regularly play pickleball complain of a soreness in their swinging arm.
It soon develops into a painful injury.
This is commonly known as pickleball elbow.
So what is it exactly and what can you do about it?
Check out these 4 quick ways to prevent it:
- 1. Weight training
- 2. Proper form and technique
- 3. Proper rest and recovery
- 4. Implement these stretches
Tennis elbow is a condition people are more familiar with as tennis is an older and more commonly played sport.
The pickleball elbow happens due to the same reason as tennis elbow.
The player’s arm is used repeatedly in the same motion, which strains the tendons.
The most commonly affected tendon is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB).
The function of the ECRB is to keep the wrist stabilized as the elbow is held in a straight position.
But here is what you must understand.
While repeated motion of the arm can strain the ECRB, it can also be strained by improper form during play.
People who are avid users of forehand ground strokes and backhanded hits are likely to suffer from pickleball elbow if their arm is in the wrong position every time they make contact with the ball.
Here is the thing …
The tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow will be strained.
The pain will be felt around the area of the bony bump on the outside or lateral side of the elbow.
How can you tell if you are in the early stages of this injury?
If you have developed a pickleball elbow, you will be able to identify the following the symptoms:
· A burning pain in the outer elbow. It could also be accompanied by a burning pain in the inner elbow or could only be in the inner elbow
· Sharp twinges of pain from either the outer or inner elbow from time to time
· Tension, pain, and soreness of the forearm
· Soreness, stiffness, or ache in the surrounding areas upon waking up in the morning
Find out more about this condition from our friends over at Pickleball Central Blog – some great tips in there.
How Serious is this condition?
The affected area(outer elbow) will feel incredibly painful and inflamed.
If you don’t give your arm the rest and treatment it requires, the pain will worsen.
Therefore, it will take even more to heal.
The pain can become quite bad and you will eventually have to stop playing.
If your injury has gotten so bad, you can expect to be a spectator and on the sidelines for several months.
If the treatment is not effectively completed and enough time is not allowed for fully healing of your affected elbow, the condition will reoccur after returning to the court.
Overuse is definitely the most common cause.
Although, there are other causes too.
Athletes are more vulnerable to pickleball elbow as they are involved in more than one sport.
Age has also been found to be a cause of the condition.
People between 30 and 50 years of age were found to have more complaints.
If you are experiencing too much pain in your arm, the first thing is to stop playing.
If you continue, you will worsen your condition.
Be sure to 12 most common elbow injuries – most you have probably never heard of.
Next, you should go to a Specialist Doctor who can confirm that the pain and inflammation is actually the result of a pickleball elbow.
Your Doctor may recommend the following treatments:
· For the pain, the Doctor will recommend an anti-inflammatory medicine. It will relieve the sever discomfit so the arm can heal in peace. However, don’t take undue advantage of the lack of pain. Going back into the game is totally out of the question unless your Doctor clears you. On the other hand, try not using your arm too much for other purposes as well. Give it as much rest as possible
· Indulge in gentle forearm stretches. It will not only help reduce the pain by providing better circulation but make your arm get back into the movement without further damage. If you think that general stretching at home is not working or you don’t exactly know what is healthy, then consult a physiotherapist. They are more experienced in restoring the affected area into action and provide tips about healthier muscle function as well
· It is uncommon but in some severe cases, the pickleball elbow may develop into a muscle tear. This requires surgery for repairing the tendons. It will be obviously followed by post-surgical precautions and extra healing time
Best Prevention Techniques
One of the best ways to prevent a painful pickleball elbow is to take prevention measures.
Here is how you can prevent this condition if you are a regular player:
Overuse does cause this condition but you can get your body used to excessive activity.
This is necessary for people who play the sport more than others.
Meaning you play 2 or more times a week.
For this purpose, you can benefit from weight training.
This will help the muscles in the forearm to build strength required to deal with overuse.
As the muscles develop an adequate tolerance, the stress will not be focused on the elbow anymore as you play.
Weight training may include starting with light dumbbells.
Use a very light dumbbell, such as 2.5lbs, to perform wrist curls and reverse curls.
This will gradually lead to increasing the amount of load and shock your arm can tolerate.
You can also use a stress ball to strengthen your grip.
A weakened tennis ball can be used for the same purpose.
Improving Playing Form
One of the leading causes of this condition is holding the arm in the wrong position while playing.
It will stress the forearm and pull the muscles the wrong way even if you were not to develop an injured elbow from overuse.
Some strokes during the game are risky.
They require more exertion from the arm.
Using the wrong technique during such hits will make the tendons vulnerable to injury.
This is why you should take help from a pickleball coach.
They can train you in how to hold the proper form.
For example, they will teach you about positioning and setup of your elbow, shoulder, and core muscles when you swing.
Players who use too much of their wrist flexion or extension can benefit from this training.
Being “wristy” with your backhands puts strain on your forearm tendons.
But being patient is better than experiencing pain and having to leave a sport you love for months.
Some people may find certain playing styles not suitable for them.
A good example is of people who use the western grip to play pickleball.
It is not as common a technique in pickleball as in tennis but some players find it useful for adding a topspin to their shots.
However be warned …
It exerts additional pressure on the arm as well.
Therefore, players can create more risk for developing this serious elbow condition and contemplate a better playing style that is less likely to cause injury.
Resting from the Game
One of the best ways to avoid overuse is to give yourself a rest from the game.
It might be addicting but the body naturally needs its rest to provide optimum function.
Don’t wait for aches to develop so you know it is time to rest.
Instead, make a schedule where rest is a significant part of your pickleball sessions.
This is a much better option than to quit playing for months and spend them in pain too.
The Pickleball Portal shares some great info also on this topic.
Indulge in Stretching
If you play, your body is already in a mode of exercise but playing also causes stress on the body.
Therefore, you need to indulge in exercises that relieve this kind of stress and keep you prepared for overuse.
Exercise should not only be between pickleball sessions.
Stretching of the muscles can be accomplished both before and after the play.
Since your forearm is used excessively, stretching should be focused around those muscles.
Both sides of the forearm should be stretched.
Hold your arm straight in front of your body and flex the wrist by using the hand of the other arm.
Keep this position for 20 to 30 seconds and perform thrice.
Now do the same with your wrist extended.
You should also consult a pickleball coach or physical trainers for sports.
They will be able to advise you on the appropriate exercises to build strength in your forearms and the rest of the body.
If you love playing pickleball, then you have to accept the risks associated with playying a high speed game.
If you have already developed a severe form of this elbow condition, then it is highly suggested to follow strict resting and healing schedule.
This is the only way to return without developing the condition again.
If you have been experiencing light pain, consult a Doctor before it gets worse.
But here is what most people do not get or understand …
And it baffles me!
You can easily treat and recover from your outer elbow problem from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Treating this condition is EXACTLY the same as tennis elbow!
I have put together a short video tutorial that explains JUST 5 easy steps you can do right now to start recovering.
And the best part…
You can do them from the convenience and comfort of the chair you are sitting on.