By Barbara Wintraub, Retrofit Pilates
Are you suffering from ‘pickleball elbow’ (AKA tennis elbow)? Only 5% of people diagnosed with ‘pickleball elbow’ actually play pickleball. The overuse can occur from holding your cell phone, knitting, blow drying your hair, cutting flower stems and many other activities.
If you turn your palm upward, a sore knobby bone closest to your waist is called ‘golfer’s elbow’ and if you turn your palm downward, a sore knobby bone on top of your elbow is called ‘pickleball elbow’. If you don’t play golf, then I call the top bone your backhand pickleball elbow and the other bone your forehand pickleball elbow. In any case, your elbow hurts because of an overuse injury, but the elbow injury can be secondary to an injury elsewhere in the body. The elbow injury may be caused by the body compensating for an injury to the neck, shoulder or wrist.
How is your posture? (Oh no! Here we go again on that posture stuff!) This is just to point out how important posture is to all your joints and body parts. Before you begin your stretching and strengthening, pleeeeeez look at the way you stand up. Get your shoulders back, head over your shoulders, stand against a wall to do this, and then begin the exercise program.
Phase I: Ice
Ice is recommended as long as inflammation is present. Throughout the entire rehab process and even after returning to pickleball, ICE is the way to go because it slows local metabolism and helps relieve pain and muscle spasm.
Phase II: Stretch
Stretching improves flexibility of the muscles in question. Hold all stretches for 20-30 seconds, repeat 5-10 times several times a day or during and after you play pickleball. Always use gentle stretching, including wrist flexion, extension and rotation.
fitness: fingers downward
Place your arm straight in front of you, chest high. Point your fingers downward toward the floor; use your other hand to increase the stretch.
fitness: fingers upward
Turn your finger upward toward the sky. Use your other hand to increase the stretch.
fitness: prayer position
Prayer stretch fingertips upward. The same stretch fingertips downward.
Make sure your shoulders are down and your shoulder blades pulled back.
Phase III: Strengthen
Strengthening exercises can be done 10 times each exercise then ICE after.
Wrist flexion and extension can be done using a broom with a string and weightfitness: wrist rolls attached (filled water bottle works). Roll the weight up from the ground by turning wrists.
fitness position 7
fitness position 8
Forearm pronation/supination. fitness position 6Grasp a wrench, hammer or other heavy object in your hand with forearm supported on your leg. Rotate hand to palm up position then slowly rotate to palm down position. If the wrench is too heavy, begin by using your pickleball paddle then graduate to something heavier.
Look for what causes your pickleball elbow and look for the changes necessary to make sure re-injury doesn’t occur. Once the pain is gone, you might want to consider having a pickleball instructor look at the way you are hitting both your backhand and forehand to see if changes need to be made. You can go to a two-handed backhand if necessary.
Play hard and safe!