As the popularity of tennis and pickleball continues to grow, so does the number of foot and ankle injuries associated with these sports. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced pro, if you suffer a foot or ankle injury while playing tennis or pickleball, it’s important to seek medical attention from our Texas sports injury podiatrists.
Common Pickleball and Tennis Foot Injuries and Their Symptoms
When you’re playing a high-intensity sport like tennis or one that is lower-impact such as pickleball, there is always a risk of sustaining a foot or an ankle injury. It is essential to be aware of potential symptoms, so if they occur, you can see a podiatrist and get immediate medical attention. Getting an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment is important for healing and to prevent further injury in the future.
Symptoms Other Than Pain
- Loss of range of motion
- Difficulty walking or bearing weight
The most common types of foot injuries associated with tennis and pickleball are sprains and strains. Sprains are injuries that involve overstretching or tearing foot or ankle ligaments, which are bands that connect bones to each other at joints. Strains occur when your muscles or tendons become stretched or torn due to sudden movement, such as moving to hit a ball.
Other Possible Pickleball or Tennis Foot and Ankle Injuries
- Plantar fasciitis. The most common type of foot injury sustained by pickleball and tennis players is plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot becomes swollen or inflamed, often due to overuse or improper stretching before playing. Symptoms include pain in the heel or arch area, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty walking, especially when you first step out of bed in the morning.
- Stress fractures and broken bones. Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bones caused by overuse and repetitive pressure. They usually cause pain that gets worse with activity. In addition, if you jump up to hit a ball and fall or land hard on your foot or ankle, you could sustain a broken bone or ankle fracture.
- Achilles tendinitis. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, known as Achilles tendinitis, causes pain at the back of your heel that worsens when you stretch your calf muscles. This type of injury can occur if you stop and go suddenly while playing pickleball or tennis. If you hear a popping sound and find it difficult to stand or put weight on your foot, it could indicate that you’ve ruptured your Achilles tendon and need immediate medical attention.
- Turf toe. Some tennis and pickleball players may suffer from turf toe—a form of joint inflammation caused by overextending their big toe. This type of injury is due to rapid starts and explosive movements on hard court surfaces.
Treatment for Pickleball and Tennis Injuries
If you experience any symptoms after sustaining an injury while playing tennis or pickleball, it is important to see a podiatrist as soon as possible for an evaluation. A podiatrist can diagnose your injury accurately and recommend treatment for your specific needs.
The Usual First Treatment: RICE
Other Treatment Options
- Physical therapy to help restore movement
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling
- Bracing or splinting to help keep the ankle or foot stable
- Orthotics for extra cushioning and support in your shoes
- Massage to stimulate blood flow to the injured area
If the foot or ankle injury is severe, surgery may be needed to correct or repair the issue.
Tips for Avoiding Pickleball or Tennis Foot and Ankle Injuries
Athletes who play pickleball or tennis should be aware of the risks associated with each sport, so they can take steps to avoid injury. Proper stretching before playing is key for both sports—it will help you warm up your muscles while decreasing your risk of strain or damage due to overuse.
While it is not possible to avoid every type of ankle or foot injury associated with pickleball or tennis, there are several tips to consider that can help prevent injuries so you can stay safe while on the court. These include:
- Always wear the proper type of athletic shoes for the sport you are playing. Do not wear shoes that are worn out or offer little support.
- Train properly, and rest if you begin to experience pain.
- Be aware of the type of court surface you are playing on, and watch for any cracks or uneven court surfaces that could cause you to fall.
- If your ankle is susceptible to sprains, consider wearing an ankle support or brace.
- If you need added support in the arch of your foot, wear custom orthotics in your shoes.
- Listen to your body and never ignore an injury, even if it at first seems minor.
- See a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem to avoid further complications.
Contact Our Austin Podiatrists
If you injured your foot or ankle while playing pickleball or tennis, contact our experienced sports injury podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists for an evaluation. We can provide various advanced treatment options for your condition based on your individual needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us online, or call our office at 512-328-8900.