3 Tips for Choosing the Best Pickleball Paddle for Shoulder Pain
I have been a licensed physical therapist since 2006 and a certified strength and condition specialist since 2000. I have watched the popularity of pickleball grow and with it the number of pickleball-related shoulder and elbow pain.
In my clinical practice, Total Therapy Solutions, I work with pickleball players who have already had rotator cuff repair surgery as well as those trying to prevent surgery.
Choose a pickleball paddle with a larger sweet spot.
The sweet spot on a pickleball paddle is the most balanced point of impact (see also ‘Best Pickleball Paddle For Control‘). All of the paddle’s forces are transferred to the ball rather than causing a wobble or vibration in the handle.
A paddle with a small sweet spot of hard to find sweet spot may result in more reaction force being transferred into the player’s hand, wrist, elbow, and of course, shoulder.
One or two miss hits won’t be too much of a problem, but hundreds or even thousands over the life of a paddle may lead to overuse injuries in the pickleball player’s arm.
For more information on the most forgiving paddles for pickleball beginners look at this article: click here.
Choose a pickleball paddle with an ergonomic grip.
There are several pickleball paddles with really great ergonomic grips on the market (see also ‘How To Hold A Pickleball Paddle‘). Find a grip that feels comfortable in your hand. If you have problems with arthritis in the fingers or especially at the base of your thumb a softer, more spongy grip might be best.
If you have severely arthritic fingers are wrists and you are not planning on playing competitive pickleball you might consider finding a certified hand therapist to create a custom grip for your favorite pickleball paddle.
Choose a lighter pickleball paddle to reduce shoulder pain.
Pickleball paddle weight is an important factor in developing shoulder pain. The trouble with swinging a heavier paddle isn’t the actual weight, but the momentum a heavier paddle creates.
Basic physics suggests that if you increase either the mass or velocity of a pickleball paddle, the momentum of the paddle increases proportionally. Sports injuries often happen while decelerating an object.
Non-contact ACL ruptures happen while the athlete is decelerating her body.
Similarly, swinging a slightly heavier paddle may produce higher loads than a pickleball player’s posterior shoulder can handle.
Choosing a slightly lighter paddle, in the beginning, may give you a chance to build strength both on the acceleration and deceleration side of swinging a paddle.
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Anthony Maritato, PT
Physical Therapist / Author
Hi! My name is Anthony Maritato, PT but please call me Tony. I have been a licensed physical therapist since 2006 and a strength and conditioning coach since 2000.
I am new to the sport of pickleball, but I have been working with pickleball athletes for most of my physical therapy career. To learn more about my physical therapy clinic visit Total Therapy Solutions.