Authored by Aaron O'Brien

Blue checkmark icon Medically reviewed by Aaron O'Brien MD.

Keeping Your Feet Under You: Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries in Pickleball

February 6, 2024 | Foot & AnkleOrthopedics

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America and in southern Utah. It is easy to see why. This unique sport appeals to all age levels, provides a moderate level of exercise, is low impact, and is easy to learn. However, as with any sport, there is always the risk of injury. Some of the most frequent injuries in pickleball occur in the foot and ankle. These include:

Ankle Sprains

Pickleball is a fast-paced game that requires good reaction time and quick lateral movement. Ankle sprains usually occur when there is a sudden change in direction with the foot rolling to the outside, causing ligaments to stretch or tear. Pain, swelling, and difficulty walking will usually ensue, and it can take weeks to months for the ankle to recover. Rest, ice, immobilization, compression, and elevation are key to improving symptoms. More severe symptoms may require orthopedic care.


The two most commonly used tendons in pickleball are the Achilles tendon and peroneal tendons, which are responsible for strong push-offs and quick movements. Overuse without proper rest and stretching can lead to inflammation and degeneration. Often, a tender enlargement or prominence will be noticed in the tendon. Tendinitis can become chronic without proper early treatment, such as rest and stretching. In more severe cases, a walking boot and physical therapy may be needed.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

One of the more devastating injuries in all of sports is the Achilles tendon rupture, which often manifests as a loud “pop” or “crack.” With the quick, explosive movements of pickleball, these ruptures are common. If you experience a limited ability to push off when walking, you should seek evaluation from an orthopedic specialist.

Plantar Fasciitis

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This occurs when the supportive ligamentous structure that extends from the bottom of the heel to the ball of the foot becomes tight and inflamed. Pain with first steps in the morning or after sitting are the most common complaints. Plantar fasciitis can be difficult to eliminate and usually requires a period of rest and stretching to improve symptoms.

Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries in Pickleball

Many injuries can be prevented with proper preparation and technique. The following are some important tips to keep you on the court:

  1. Warm-up and stretch. Getting the body warm and taking time to stretch the Achilles and other tendons around the ankle will significantly reduce the chance for injury.
  2. Invest in proper footwear. Use good shoes designed for pickleball or similar sports. Adding a good supportive insert or orthotic can also make a difference.
  3. Consider ankle braces. If you have “weak ankles” or a history of sprains, braces can help prevent future injury.
  4. Strengthen your ankles. Taking the time to add ankle exercises to your fitness routine will improve stability and reduce injuries.
  5. Listen to your body. Be in tune with your body and pay attention to signs of pain and discomfort. Allow for proper rest before returning to the court.

Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport, so take proper care of your feet and ankles so that injuries don’t keep you sidelined. If injuries do occur, seek care from your orthopedic specialist to help you get back on the court.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit our website at St. George Coral Desert Orthopedics or call us at 435-628-9393

This article was originally featured in the St. George Health & Wellness Magazine: January/February 2024 Edition.

Aaron O'Brien, MD


Aaron O'Brien, MD

Aaron O’Brien, MD, completed his Foot and Ankle Surgery Fellowship under the direction of world renowned surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic. At St. George Coral Desert Orthopedics, Dr. O’Brien offers a more comprehensive understanding and approach in treating a variety of complex conditions related to the foot and ankle. Dr. O’Brien is the only board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery in southern Utah.

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

Learn more about Telehealth

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.