Pickleball may be enjoying a surge in popularity, but the growing sport can cause injury — as TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie knows all too well.
On Thursday’s episode of TODAY, Savannah joined Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and Jacob Soboroff while speaking with physical therapist David Endres, co-founder of Spear Physical Therapy, about how to avoid pickleball injuries. Savannah opened up about how she hurt herself in a rather unglamorous way while playing the sport that’s a cross between tennis, badminton, ping-pong and squash.
“Have you ever seen anybody who’s hit their own head with a pickleball racquet? Well, now you have,” she said as a picture of her injury appeared onscreen. “That was me.”
Savannah had no problem poking fun at herself and how she treated her injury.
“Isn’t that horrendous?” she added. “That lump, and let me tell you what I did was just put a nice bottle of Hampton Water Rosé right on it and that really brought the swelling right down.”
Savannah said the possibility of striking yourself with a racquet does indeed exist.
“It could happen. You get excited and then you’re like, ‘Boom’ on your own head,” she said while mimicking the motion of hitting herself.
So, what exactly caused this injury?
“This happened last May. It was an embarrassing self-inflicted wound,” Savannah told TODAY Digital.
“My opponent hit the pickle ball right toward me and when I tried to hit it back, I whipped the racquet up toward my own forehead with such force, I whacked myself on the head. The lump appeared immediately and (was) humungous. It was an astonishing lump!”
Savannah said she was mortified by how it all went down and had to think quickly to treat the lump.
“The embarrassment hurt more than the injury. I didn’t have any ice on hand, but I did have a cold bottle of rosé nearby so I improvised — and put the bottle on it to get the swelling down. That’s about it!”
And Savannah does have one key takeaway.
“Moral of the story: have rosé handy if you play pickle ball,” she said. “Or maybe the moral of the story is, don’t play pickle ball while drinking rosé!”
Endres says one area in the body where injuries may occur is the rotator cuff, which is a series of muscles starting on the shoulder blade that need to stay in place to help what he terms “dynamic activities” that involve throwing or doing anything with an overhead motion, like in pickleball.
Endres, who suggests using bands to get your muscle groups moving before actually playing, says it’s hard to say if you can do anything to prevent a rotator cuff tear, but he does recommend having a good strength and flexibility program to employ the proper mechanics when playing the sport.
He also emphasizes the need to keep the shoulders loose, getting ready for random movements the body will need to make and prepping your body for an actual game.
“In squash and tennis, we do something called ‘ghosting,’ where you actually get on the court and you simulate the movements that you’re doing on the court, so that you have a good awareness or court perception, the awareness of your body and space and when the random movements start coming into play, you’re ready for any of that,” he said.