“Movement is medicine,” a tried and true statement. But, sometimes it feels like the opposite happens to us just as we fall in love with a new sport or exercise routine. We have already covered common regions that get spicy as people delve into the world of pickleball, but there is one last body part to discuss – the knees. Running, some form of squatting, and cutting are all demands placed on the knees during a game of pickleball. New aches and pains arise when new activities start too fast, which doesn’t mean, “Don’t ever try new things.” Pickleball and knee pain go together due to the nature of the sport, and here’s why.
Common Knee Injuries with Pickleball
During your training or match play you could encounter some bumps along the road that occur in the form of meniscus injuries, knee tracking issues, and tendon pain of the muscles around the knee joint. Research supports physical therapy for these issues in comparison to more complicated and/or intrusive methods; IE surgery/injections. As with other tendon issues, overuse can be the culprit in either the endurance or strength category. Meniscus related injuries usually involve a form of running and cutting over time; even squatting deeper/faster than you normally would can cause some hiccups in your game.
Best Exercises For Pickleball And Knee Pain
While those sound unpleasant, remember two things: you are choosing to be an athlete and there are some steps to take in order to reduce your risk of these happening. Being an athlete comes with an inherent risk of injury, but being active and healthy are way more helpful for your quality of life in the long run. Exercises to incorporate involve strengthening ALL of your lower body joints – hip, knee, ankle.
Lateral Band Walks
Lateral band walks, or monster walks, are a great tool in order to facilitate strength in your lateral hip muscles which are important for power and lateral movements throughout the game. The farther below your knee the band is the faster the burn will set in. Completing 20 seconds of side-stepping one way and then 20 seconds the other way with 2 additional rounds should fire up those muscles pretty good.
Squatting with some form of extra resistance – kettlebells, dumbbells, or barbells – target everything and load the appropriate muscles for the squatted/athletic stance you need to play pickleball. One way to think of weight training is to allow your body to move your bodyweight with greater ease and endurance.
Heel raises are important as well in order to help produce force and aid in quick movements overall. Completing these double legged is a good place to start and as you get stronger switching to single leg. A good litmus test to see if your ankle muscles are holding up is trying to complete twenty single heel raises with minimal to no fatigue (burn). If they are challenging, start with three rounds of fifteen to twenty reps of double leg heel raises and progress from there week to week. Challenging the whole lower extremity is important so that the knee does not bear most of the work during your matches!
Struggling With Pickleball And Knee Pain?
Remember, sport specific training does not stop with age or new activities. If you are struggling with knee pain or are just looking to make sure you are good to go for your next match give us a call or visit our website. We love keeping people active and helping them achieve their goals. Providing efficient interventions and education to keep you on the court is our number one priority.