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In the United States, racquetball is among the fastest-growing racket sports.

More than six million people play racquetball, with more and more joining the scene every year.

Racquetball is an exhilarating, physically stimulating, and mentally engaging game.

However, it is possible for people to get injured playing racquetball, and as a result, it’s important to understand the risks and take steps to avoid injury, if at all possible.

How racquetball injuries happen

Racquetball, like many racket sports, has very intense gameplay.

Each player needs to sprint around the court, move their arms, change their direction frequently, and occasionally dive for the ball.

Any high-intensity activity like this has the potential for injury, especially since the motions are random rather than repetitive.

Another potential risk factor is the rackets themselves.

People tend to swing their rackets forcefully, and they may hit other players by accident while doing so.

It’s also possible for people to be hit by the ball itself, which bounces off the court’s walls at high speeds.

However, since the ball is small and made of rubber, it’s less likely to cause injury.

Common racquetball injuries can be divided into two main categories:

  • Overuse
  • Traumatic

Overuse injuries can happen with any kind of physical activity.

These injuries often occur because a muscle is overstretched, a joint is repetitively used without being rested, or the body becomes too physically stressed.

People are more likely to suffer overuse injuries if they aren’t using the right techniques when they play.

Using the wrong form can cause your muscles or joints to become injured.

It’s also common for overuse injuries to occur if people ignore mild aches and pains until they get worse.

Some overuse injuries happen due to repetitive stress.

Some examples of an overuse injury caused by racquetball would be:

  • The knee becomes worn down and torn because of the ongoing repetitive turning motions.
  • The shoulder becomes injured from repetitively and forcefully swinging the racket.
  • A muscle becomes strained because you stretched too far when diving for the ball and overtaxed it.

Traumatic injuries, on the other hand, tend to be related to an impact or force.

They involve something external hurting your body.

You might sustain a traumatic injury if you have an impact with:

  • The ball
  • Another player
  • The floor
  • The wall
  • A racket

Traumatic injuries are less common in racquetball players, but they do sometimes happen.

The severity varies depending on how the injury happened and what body part was injured.

If you’re experiencing extreme pain or you suffer a head wound, it’s important to see a doctor and make sure you’re okay.

Most common Racquetball injuries

Lateral Epicondylitis

This may sound like a mouthful, but it’s actually one of the most common overuse injuries that racquetball players suffer.

The more common colloquial term is “tennis elbow,” so named because of just how common it is in racket sports.

Your forearm muscles are connected to your elbow bone by your extensor tendon.

If your muscles are overused, this area can become inflamed, sore, and painful.

The condition is brought on by repetitive movements of the wrist, elbow, and arm.

Some factors that can contribute to the development of tennis elbow include:

  • Using incorrect swing mechanics or poor form
  • Using the wrong racket for your needs

You need a racket that has the right size, reverberation, and string to feel comfortable in your hand.

Most players who develop tennis elbow notice their symptoms in their dominant racket hand.

If you grip or squeeze the tender area, the pain might become worse.

Rotator Cuff Problems

Racquetball can often lead to rotator cuff injuries.

The rotator cuff is made up of a collection of tendons and muscles that help keep the shoulder in place.

Your shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in the body, and your muscles need to be strong to keep it in place.

If you use repetitive overhead motions, especially without enough rest for your shoulder, you may develop a rotator cuff injury.

A traumatic version of this injury can occur if your shoulder sustains a blow.

Rotator cuff injuries often occur in people who work in food service, manufacturing, construction, and other jobs that require lifting heavy objects above the head frequently.

Rotator cuff injuries are graded on three levels:

  • Grade I, when there’s a microscopic tear or the muscle is overly stretched, but the joint is stable
  • Grade II, when the cuff is moderately torn, often accompanied by a limited range of motion and joint instability
  • Grade III, when the cuff is severely or completely torn, which may cause total immobility and significant swelling

Grade I and II injuries often heal with rest, but it’s common for Grade III injuries to need surgical intervention.

Ankle Sprains and Strains

Racquetball involves a lot of running, sprinting, and sudden changes of direction.

This can lead to ankle injuries, especially if you have weak ankles to begin with or you’re wearing improper footwear.

It’s also possible to injure your ankle if another player steps on it.

There are different types of ankle sprain, and the severity often depends on exactly what ligament is torn.

Inversion and eversion sprains are most commonly seen.

Inversion sprains occur when a ligament is torn due to the ankle inverting, and eversion sprains happen when the ankle rolls outward instead.

Sprains also have a grading system:

  • Grade I for a mild stretch or microscopic tear
  • Grade II for a moderate tear that involves under 90 percent of the ligament, often involving tenderness, pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion
  • Grade III for significant tearing that shears through more than 90 percent of the ligament, which usually prevents a person from being able to walk

This is by no means a comprehensive list of every injury a racquetball player might face, but it can give you a general overview of some of the potential hazards if you play this sport.

If you do experience an injury while playing racquetball, it’s important to always consult a medical professional to discuss care and treatment options.

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