With a growth of more than 650% participants in the last 5-years, pickleball is a game many are passionate about-whether it be passionate about the sport itself, or passionate about a stance that they are “too young to play pickleball”. Regardless of biases, the game is gaining momentum and popularity fast among all ages, and injuries related to pickleball are more prevalent than ever and we at Synergy Rehabilitation and Wellness in Scottsdale, AZ can help.
One of the most common pickleball injuries is shoulder pain, specifically shoulder impingement. Pickleball involves repetitive movements, especially with the shoulder, and repetition can cause immense stress on the body. Overuse can strain the tendons of the rotator cuff; tendons from muscles in the shoulder that merge together to move the shoulder. This overuse in combination with poor mechanics and lack of stability and strength can cause inflammation and compression and most renowned by patients, pain.
Common movements performed by the rotator cuff are the backhand and forehand motions utilized in pickleball. Whether it be a dink or a drive, repetitive serves, volleying, and groundstrokes are generated by the rotator cuff, and the more it is made to move, the more opportunities for inflammation. The rotator cuff must work harder when the shoulder is less stable, such as when the arm is farther away from the body. Common symptoms of shoulder impingement are pain, decreased range of motion, weakness, and inability to sleep on that side.
Common populations at risk are those with poor posture, improper mechanics, age >50, history of osteoarthritis, those with a hook shaped scapula, and side sleepers. Treatment includes taking time off of the court, rest, anti-inflammatories, topical analgesic creams, CBD creams, and other at home modalities. Exercises to help impingement include those that provide upper back, scapular, and rotator cuff strengthening, stabilization, and range of motion.
Some stretches can include those that stretch the pectoralis muscles, trapezius, and scalenes. In addition, exercises for shoulder impingement can include pendulums, wall slides, and shoulder retractions. Manual therapy in conjunction with exercises provided by a licensed physical therapist can be beneficial. It is also important to know what to avoid when symptoms start to appear. Try to avoid sleeping on the affected side, overhead lifting, tricep dips, and complete shoulder immobility. Avoid arm slings as this can worsen the symptoms and contribute to accelerated shoulder stiffness. Steroids can also be injected into the area, but it is important to avoid multiple injections as steroids can break down the tendons.
Synergy Rehabilitation and Wellness in Scottsdale, AZ can help with the best treatment plan that is right for your injury, do not wait too long to seek it as the shoulder can become weaker and more stiff making recovery more difficult.
Preventing injury is crucial to playing pickleball. Warming up, stretching, assuring proper mechanics, and allowing rest time will let you play with more stamina and less pain.