A racket, or paddle sport, uses your arms way more than maybe you think. Even if the paddle is pretty light! The repetitions and speed at which your arm may be used is different from your day to day activities and/or your gym routine. Whether just beginning or have been competing for a while your pain may be different from your friends based on where and when it hurts. Common areas involved are your rotator cuff and your shoulder blade muscles. Volume and capacity also play a role, just as with any other sport. Learn about pickleball and shoulder pain. 

What Types Of Shoulder Pain Are Common In Pickleball

Impingement or some form of tendinopathy could occur, or maybe even a combination of the two. Don’t panic! These are pretty common and can be treated conservatively – meaning with activity modifications and exercises for the structure involved. Most of the time overuse causes tendon issues. Overuse can come from doing too much or your muscles not having enough endurance to continue to compete at the level you want. Impingement can occur when you repeatedly hit, touch, apply pressure to the end range of your joint’s range of motion. Remember there are multiple rotator cuff muscles and various ways to impinge – so your friend’s tips may not help, don’t get discouraged. 

Best Exercises for Pickleball and Shoulder Pain

The key to preventing injuries related to pickleball and shoulder pain is to slowly ramp up the amount of time you play. Building yourself up over time will greatly help your body become accustomed to the strain and gain endurance. Starting with practice for 1-2 hours at a time, several times a week is a good place to start. What is pretty common is, people will play once for about 2 hours, then spend a whole day playing in a tournament.

Band Pull Aparts

Completing resistance band pull a parts (“taffy pulls”), with your elbows tucked at your sides is a great exercise for your rotator cuff. Using a light band and completing 3 rounds of moderate to heavy fatigue would be our go to rep scheme to start with.

External Rotation

If you don’t have a resistance band, use a small soup can for weight. Complete this variation laying on your side and your top arm in an “L” – shape. A pillow will be underneath the top elbow and you will then raise your hand from your belly button to about 45 degrees past neutral. Completing 3 rounds of fatigue, with a good amount of burn will target some parts of the rotator cuff as well.

Scapula Squeezes

Your shoulder blade muscles – the muscles in between them – are commonly decreased in strength and endurance, this can lead to some type of impingements. To target this region, start on your stomach and hands down by your side. Pinch your shoulder blades together and down, “towards your back pockets,” holding for 10 to 20 seconds; repeat 4 rounds. If it becomes easier, increase that hold to the full 20 seconds. 

Struggling With Pickleball and Shoulder Pain?

If you are starting from scratch, please build yourself up. You would not try and run 6 miles on day one. If you have been playing for awhile and some aches are nudging into your day to day, give these exercises a try too. If your shoulder pain lasts longer than 2 weeks, reach out and give us a call or visit our website! We want to help you stay on the court for as long as you want. 

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