There’s nothing worse than a padel elbow injury. Whether it’s the elbow pain during the game itself or the soreness in the hours following, it can truly overshadow the joy of playing padel and make you want to avoid stepping foot on the court.
The good news is that there are some things you can try yourself to alleviate pain from a padel elbow injury and get you back on the court feeling good. Even better news is we discuss all of them in this article! As with all of our advice, these are simply suggestions from our experience as coaches – so do be sure to consult your healthcare provider.
Often overlooked but hugely important is the make up of the racket you are using. If you’re using a heavy, hard racket naturally this is less forgiving on your body, including your elbow. Each time you hit a shot, vibrations are sent through your arm and therefore the softer the racket, the more forgiving on your elbow. Not sure if you have a hard or heavy racket? Check the racket description online or ask your local coach. We’ve created many videos on how to choose your racket – here’s one video that can help. Moving away from a hard and heavy racket to a softer and lighter one can be a difficult change, but your elbow will thank you for it.
There are a couple of sides to this one. The first is that the model and quality of the balls you use have different impacts on your elbow. If you’re using older balls for the majority of your padel, this will put additional strain through your elbow due to the extra effort required to generate speed with lower pressured balls. You don’t need new balls every time you step on court but if you find yourself using old balls more times than not, this could be putting unneeded strain on your elbow.
The second more subtle side to this is that the climate in which you play can have an impact. As we move into winter now in many European countries the colder and wetter conditions make the balls even heavier. You may not realise it but the balls you use and the climate you play in can have a huge impact on the strain put through your elbow.
This is one that padel addicts struggle with a lot! Whilst it can be tempting to play as much padel as possible, any sudden increases in the amount you play can put a lot of extra strain on your joints (and typically the elbow takes a lot of the pounding!). This can be difficult but try to build up your playing amount slowly. This means avoiding going from playing once per week to suddenly playing five times per week. It also means if you have a weekend full of matches, instead of getting back on court on Monday to work on your game, take a few days off afterwards to give your body time to recover.
Using too small a grip can result in you squeezing too hard and therefore can put extra strain through your arm. Similarly, too big a grip can also put unwanted strain on your arm. Finding the right grip size is key and is largely down to personal preference and size of your hands – for example, if you hold the grip and all four fingers touch your thumb then that’s a sign to make the grip bigger. However, this is something you’d need to experiment with and see if it helps relieve your elbow pain.
This is one we see in many emerging padel countries and it’s about the speed of play. If you find yourself hitting everything super hard from the first ball in the warmup, hitting mainly power smashes and fast volleys and groundstrokes, you may find this style of playing is contributing to your elbow pain. Players in emerging padel countries are still learning the importance of playing with a mixture of slow and fast speeds, and the sooner they do, the sooner their padel game and their elbow will thank them for it.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a physiotherapist if you have elbow pain but from our experience as coaches, the above areas mentioned can be the top contributors to causing elbow pain in the first place.
On our membership platform we have a series of off court exercises and fitness workouts – such as our TRX padel workout – that are designed to build strength and prevent injuries. If you want to improve your performance and stay injury-free at the same time, be sure to check it out here.