In addition, @tennisdpm and I were talking about lower leg injuries and he mentioned a condition called Equinus. It’s an ankle joint restriction that can be caused by tight calves and may lead to a variety of lower leg injuries.
Since most of us play on a concrete surface for hours on end and haven’t done it in a while , I thought it might be a great time to share a few of my favorite calf stretches.
@betterpickleball- this is a great topic to discuss! I feel like injury prevention, body care and recovery are one of the most overlooked things in the pickleball world.
I don’t often stretch on court right as I am finish a playing session. Usually this is because I have children in the care of others and I play right up until I have to leave to receive the baby sitter! I do stretch almost every night before I go to bed. So while it isn’t right after I play- I am still stretching regularly.
At a tournament I stretch after matches to keep my muscles ready to roll for the next match and definitely make room for a good stretch/roll out session each night after a tournament.
I always stretch before a game, especially since I’m typically the youngest on the court and will run after hard balls (or ones that my partner just doesn’t want to get…).
I also get loose between games and do drills if I can, or just practicing control with my paddle to ensure that when I get called up for another game, I’m more than ready to go.
However, after games, I like to do something a little different. The courts I typically play at have a pool feet away, so when I’m all done, I just change if I need to and jump in the pool. Great way to relax, cool off, and helps make sure I’m not tight when I go on with my day.
Stretching (deep breaths Ty, deep breaths). Very controversial topic even in physical therapy or athletic training world (I’m a PT btw). First of all, there are various types of stretching and it is classified in variety of ways. It can be classified by Intensity, Duration, Speed, Mode etc. When people talk about stretching I always assume that they are talking about “Static Stretching” which is a method of stretching in which soft tissues are elongated just past the point of tissue resistance and then held in the lengthened position with a sustained stretch force over a period of time. I rarely recommend this type of stretching especially before a strenuous physical activity. A study has shown that it can be detrimental to muscle performance (https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2013/04000/Acute_Effect_of_Passive_Static_Stretching_on.13.aspx). What I recommend to my patients and what I do in the clinical setting is giving my patients a light cardio, calisthenics as their warm-up exercise.
Static stretching after strenuous activity have been proven to decrease ‘perceived muscle soreness’ which is good!. However, a study says it only reduced about 5% lower extremity injuries so the data is still not very convincing. In the clinical setting, I utilize specific static stretching programs for specific muscles that have limitations after their main workout.
What I recommend generally for people who don’t have specific issues or limitations is dynamic (active) stretching before and after strenuous activities. Active stretching generally involves moving a limb through its full range of motion to the end ranges and repeating several times. However this is dependent on the person’s age, needs, athletic ability, prior history etc.
Ty thanks for sharing some of the most recent research and your professional insight. The human body is such an amazing machine and we are constantly learning how to make it perform better.
I am curious and wonder if you might weigh in on another subject. What are your thoughts on icing or cold therapies in general? How about you @PickleballPhil or anyone else? Would love to hear what people think.
Ice is also a very controversial topic in Physical Therapy especially in treating acute injuries. The protocol of RICE (Rest, ICE, Compression and Elevation) was coined by an American Doctor Gabe Mirkin in 1972 (48 YEARS AGO!) and he retracted this protocol in 2015, stating that it may actually delay the healing.
In the clinical setting my approach to acute injuries to Move and Exercise (gently), Analgesics (not painkillers but more natural methods, like breathing, meditation, heat if it feels good etc) and Treatment (such as manual therapy, mobilization etc) thus the new acronym M.E.A.T.
In terms of just general physical conditioning such as Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) after a strenuous activity, good news,!!! it is actually pretty effective. This is what a literature review done in 2017 has concluded: “the majority of evidence supports effectiveness of WBC in relieving symptomatology of the whole set of inflammatory conditions that could affect an athlete.” However, this review of literature has a lot of limitations: Small sample sizes, lack of randomization, conflict of interests, lack of blinding etc.
My belief in all these fads such as kinesiotaping, cryotherapy, foam rolling, cupping etc is: if it works for you, do it! If you believe something is working, it is going to likely work (placebo effect). And that may take some trial and error. These are tools that may benefit you and will not likely give you any adverse reaction. The reality is studies out there are still not enough to provide conclusions. I rarely use anecdotal evidence in recommending anything to my patients or to anyone. I’d like to see data and studies and scrutinize those data and studies. I think the most important thing is proper training and pacing and listening to your body.
Ty is an awesome resource for us! Thanks Ty for all the info. It’s pretty clear that M.E.A.T. is the favored protocol now. However, ice may not be all bad. Here’s a good article that explains why some of anti-ice sentiment is misplaced. https://mikereinold.com/is-icing-really-bad-for-you/
Slightly off topic from icing, but it’s still about recovery. @tyronepamiloza What are your thoughts on the massage guns that are growing in popularity? Do they actually aid in quicker recovery or are they strictly targeting relief or “Perceived soreness” as you mentioned before?