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A young man and woman playing pickleball on a sunny court, with an illustration of a human ankle and the seminar title "pickleball and tendon health: how Alliance Regen & Rehab can help

Pickleball And Tendon Health: How Alliance Regen & Rehab Can Help

Pickleball is a popular sport among active older adults that encourages competition, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and fosters sociability. However, this low-impact racquet sport can also impact the health of your tendons. In this article, we will discuss the importance of tendon health and how Alliance Regen and Rehabilitation can help you maintain it while enjoying sports like pickleball.

As a sports medicine practice right in downtown St. Pete, we’ve noticed the high amount of excitement present by talking with our patients. Some are new to the game and many are just starting out! We couldn’t be more excited, as pickleball players ourselves! But, we have noticed that there has been a rise injuries happening on the pickleball courts!

Tendons and Their Function

What are Tendons?

Tendons are structures that transmit forces from muscle to bone. They play a crucial role in stabilizing our joints both dynamically and statically, making them especially important in sports that involve sudden changes in direction and explosive movements, like pickleball.

If you look below at the picture detailing the structure of skeletal muscle, you can see the different parts that make up the the muscle, how it blends into the tendon (white), and then attaches to the bone.

Structure of skeletal muscle.

Tendons are made to withstand high amounts of tensile forces, which is great because the tendons job is to transmit force from muscle to bone, thus creating movement. Think of a  tendon like a strong and somewhat stiff spring that’s capable of strong and using elastic energy. That’s why our body as special cells and that make up the tendon called Tenocytes!

Tenocytes, the main resident cells of the tendon, “sense” loads and modulate the environment of the tendon. Thus, loading a tendon is important for its overall health.

Imagine if you had a bungie cord attached to something that you were trying to move (a box, a car, a sled). Imagine trying to make that object move by pulling the bungie. You’d have to take up all the slack just to get the bungie tight, while also hoping the bungie cord wouldn’t snap like a rubber band. That’s why we want our tendons to be a combination of springy, flexible, supple, and the right amount of thickness.

Achilles tendon.

Pickleball & Tendon Health Management

The Impact of PIckleball on Tendon Health

Pickleball, like other sports that involve sudden changes in direction and explosive movements, can impact the health of your tendons. The Achilles tendon, in particular, is subjected to a lot of force during plyometric exercises commonly found in pickleball. While this can be beneficial for its overall health, too much exposure to this force can lead to potential inflammation and degeneration over time. 

One possible explanation for this phenomenon, based on research, is that the tendon cells become less responsive to loading. Consequently, when the tendon is overloaded, it can weaken over time because the tenocyte is not being stimulated in the same manner. This reduced stimulation can result in a gradual weakening of the tendon.

If you take the achilles tendon for example, you might the think that the tendon just has be strong in the vertical direction, which is in line with the calf musculature. But, the achilles tendon has a cord like structure similar to a braid, which helps to increase resilience to twisting and rotational forces. Therefore, we like to build programs with exercises to help improve the rotational and vertical resilience of the achilles tendon! 

A diagram showing the muscles of the foot.

The Importance of Tendon Health Management

At Alliance Regen and Rehabilitation, we understand the importance of developing strategies for tendon health management. It’s essential to target the tenocyte, or tendon cell, to adapt and remodel, rather than encouraging degeneration. Certain factors, such as smoking, obesity, excessive cholesterol, and workout regimens without a recovery period, can encourage degeneration rather than adaptability. Gender also plays a significant role, with female tendons showing a slower rate of collagen production in response to exercise and a slower rate of hypertrophy in response to repetitive exercise. 

It’s essential to tailor rehabilitation programs to each individual’s unique needs, taking into account their specific circumstances and biology.

We Are Here To Help In St. Petersburg, FL

Pickleball is a growing low-impact racquet sport that offers many benefits to aging adults, including fun, exercise, and socialization. However, to enjoy the game safely, players must take precautions to prevent injuries. By educating players on pregame measures, we can help reduce the risk of pickleball-related injuries among older adults and all of those enjoy this sport for exercise and fun! As this sport continues to grow in popularity, it is essential to encourage safe playing practices to ensure its longevity as a fun and healthy sport for all ages.

At Alliance Regen and Rehab in St. Petersburg, we develop personalized rehabilitation programs that target your unique needs. If you’re experiencing any tendon-related issues or injuries, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. We can help you maintain tendon health while enjoying sports like pickleball. One of the things we like to utilize to determine the status of the tendon is a series of tests that can help us determine the reactivity of the tendon, and diagnostic ultrasound which helps us visibly see the status of the tendon visually.

In addition, we have you covered with online and in-person training to help reduce risk of injuries by helping you gain strength, agility, coordination, and balance for the pickleball court. Our Pickleball Injury and Performance Plan has you covered for an entire year!! Check it out for 

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1 thought on “Pickleball And Tendon Health: How Alliance Regen & Rehab Can Help”

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