Most Common Badminton Injuries: How to Prevent and Treat Them

Playing badminton could bring us many benefits, both mentally and physically. This is a great activity that could be seen as a competitive sport or just a leisure activity, whichever the case may be, it is pertinent to take precautions and safety measures to prevent injuries and allow for an enjoyable game.

This article aims to shed more light on common badminton injuries, how they can be prevented, as well as how they can be managed.

The Most Common Injuries in Badminton – Quick Summary

  • Jumper’s Knee
  • Ankle Sprain
  • Thrower’s Shoulder
  • Shin Splints
  • Achilles tendon Rupture

Why Should You Trust Me?

This article is co-written and edited by a licensed physiotherapist and a professional badminton player and instructor:

Dr. Salman Sabir PT is a licensed physiotherapist, MS in orthopedic manual therapy, and Ph.d. in exercise physiology. He is practicing in the Institute Of Medical Rehabilitation (IMR), Islamabad. He offers services in Sports Injuries, Joint Pain and Stiffness, Difficulty in Walking, Frozen Shoulder, Pain Management, Vertigo, Headache, and Cervical Pain, etc.

TSE Bun, an ex-professional badminton player who used t ranked top 30 for men’s singles, is also an instructor with over 30 years of experience. Over the years, he had developed valuable experience in preventing, dealing, and recovering from sports injuries.

Most Common Badminton Injuries – Who Should Read This

For those who would like to prevent themselves or their partners from injuries caused by playing badminton.

If you are suffering from injuries or weaker body parts, you may also want to learn more information about how to protect them while enjoy playing badminton.

Most Common Badminton Injuries

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee is otherwise known as patella tendonitis. As the name implies, it is more common in people who engage in sports that require jumping of which badminton is not excluded. This occurs when the patella tendon gets inflamed typically due to overuse, i.e. repeated strain on the tendon. The pain is usually localized towards the tip of the patella (commonly known as kneecap).

How Do I Prevent Jumper’s Knee?

Stretching: The importance of stretching for sportsmen cannot be overemphasized. Stretching exercises for the quadriceps (The muscle on the front of your thigh) should be done regularly. This elongates the muscle and reduces the stress on the tendon.

Using a knee support may also help, we have also recommended knee support as one of the best gifts for badminton lovers.

We have worked together with a licensed Physiotherapist Dr. Salman Sabir to published a detailed articles regarding the best knee support. Go and check it out if you want to protect your knee!

Wearing a knee support could prevent Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s Knee Treatment

The primary aim of the jumper’s knee treatment is to alleviate pain and stretch the quadriceps muscle. Treatment options include:

Cold therapy: Cold therapy wrap can help with inflammation and pain.

Patella tendon strap: This is a form of brace worn below the knee to reduce pain and ease the tension on the tendon.

Medication: Pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed. Be sure to use it as prescribed by a physician.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Ankle Sprain

In line with most badminton injuries, an ankle sprain is a result of overuse. It is the single most common injury among badminton players. Badminton requires a quick change in direction which can cause the ankle to roll over. When these ligaments are stretched or torn, a sprain results. Wearing shoes that grip the court floor too firm does not do you any favor either.

How Do I Prevent Ankle Sprains?

  1. Stretching before and after games.
  2. Wear snug fit badminton shoes that allow for easy sliding on the court, and make sure you do wear a pair of socks that’s suitable for badminton.
  3. You can also wear an ankle brace to protect and give extra support to the tendons and ligaments of the ankle.

Ankle Sprain Management and Treatment

If the ankle is painful and swollen, you can incorporate the “RICE” therapy. This entails ‘Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate’.

RICE Therapy – Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate
  • Rest the ankle by taking off weight. You can use crutches.
  • Ice the inflamed ankle with an ice pack
  • Compress using an elastic bandage or ankle brace
  • Raise the ankle above the level of your heart

Other than treating the Sprain with “Rice Therapy”, pain meds can also be administered.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Thrower’s Shoulder

This is often due to increased load as a result of the speed with which we swing the racket. Characterized by pain in the shoulder, either anterior, posterior, or deep shoulder pain. It could be as a result of the inflammation of the subacromial bursa (This is a fluid-filled sac on the top of the shoulder) or tears in the muscles surrounding the shoulder (rotator cuff muscles)

I found quite a several intermediate players are suffering from this problem because they cannot control the strength and speed for smashing. Another reason is the tension of strings is too high, which will result in bringing high pressure to their shoulders and wrist.

Prevention of Thrower’s Shoulder

  • Balance upper-body workouts: Exercise for a throwing athlete should include workouts that effectively combine enhanced flexibility, improved muscular strength, and endurance. Besides, the upper body workouts should not be limited to the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint); it should also incorporate the supporting regions such as the scapular and the attached muscles.
  • Limit range of movements: thrower’s shoulder is a result of exceeding the range of motion, i.e. extreme external rotation. Making a conscious effort not to exceed the range of motion helps prevent it.
  • Plyometrics:  
    • Plyometric exercise aims at increasing muscle strength and improving explosive power. Badminton as a sport involves great agility and explosive power. Plyometrics takes advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle.
    • Plyometrics create a swift stretch in muscle and with time the body gets accustomed to it by increasing efficiency and channeling the force generated to create more force for example for upper body exercise, the muscles of the arm are stretched to the maximum, held for a while and then released. This creates an explosive force.

Treatment and Management of Thrower’s Shoulder

  • Depending on the degree of dysfunction, limiting throwing activities for a variable period is advisable.
  • Therapy which should include a regimented program integrating scapular control and pericapsular muscle strengthening.
  • Medication to relieve pain
  • Surgery in severe cases.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Shin Splints

Shin splint is characterized by pain, swelling, and tenderness in the lower leg. Failure to warm up and stretch before a game might lead to shin splints. This is as a result of the imbalance between your calf muscles and the muscles located at the front of the leg.

How Can I Prevent Shin Splints?

  • Stretching and warm-ups before a game.
  • Wear appropriate footwear to allow for easy movement on the court.

Treatment and Management of Shin Splints

Shin splint often heals on its own. However, to facilitate the healing process, you can try the following:

  • Rest the leg
  • Ice the affected leg to alleviate pain and swelling
  • Take anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers if necessary.
  • Use specially-designed shin-splint braces/ calf brace to increase circulation and reduce muscle swelling.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Achilles tendon Rupture

Achilles tendon rupture often occurs in people playing recreational sports. The Achilles tendon is a fibrous cord that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. When the Achilles tendon is overstretched, it could tear either entirely or partially. It is often characterized by pain and swelling at the back of the ankle.

How Do I Prevent Achilles tendon Rupture?

  • Calf strengthening exercise and stretching: stretch the calf muscles till you feel a pull but not pain. This improves the range of motion.
  • Wearing appropriate shoes.

Treatment and Management of Achilles Tendon Rupture.

For a complete rupture, younger people prefer a surgical approach. While this exists, there is also a non-surgical approach to the treatment.

  • Resting the ankle. Crutches can be used to remove weight from the injured ankle.
  • Applying ice helps with pain and inflammation.
  • Medication.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is present at the bottom of our feet. It is like a thick sheet that supports and connects the heel of the foot with the toes. It feels like a sharp pin-prick type of pain, especially when you take your first step in the morning. The pain of plantar fasciitis usually fades with movement. However, prolonged standing, walking, and repetitive stress on the sole of the foot can elicit the pain.

In most badminton players, plantar fasciitis occurs because of poor biomechanics, overuse, and misfit shoes. However, plantar fasciitis can also be caused by heel spurs that are bone prominences in our calcaneum (heel bone). Because of these heel spurs, the attachment sites of plantar fascia get inflamed, which leads to the sharp stabbing type of pain across the sole of the foot.

How Do I Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is made up of thick connective tissue. It remains functional and free of pain when applied forces are evenly distributed throughout the foot sole. The biomechanics of a player is very important in preventing the chances of plantar fasciitis. Following are some measures that you must ensure to prevent plantar fasciitis.

  • Learn proper biomechanics: Badminton involves agile movements that cause considerable pressure on the foot sole. If you don’t learn proper biomechanics, more forces will collide on the heel or any single point of the foot sole. This not only increases the risk of plantar fasciitis but also it can make you prone to other most common injuries in badminton.
  •  Invest in good shoes: It is as important as learning badminton or any other sports itself. Your shoes should provide you enough bounce to uniformly distribute the ground reaction forces. The shoes should fit perfectly on your feet. It should allow quick movement transition as well as maintain the foot balance.
  • Never bunk warm-up: The most common reason for plantar fasciitis and other injuries in badminton players is bunking the warm-up. If you start your game cold feet, it is much likely that you will hurt your plantar fascia. It has considerable flexibility, which is essential to distribute the forces all over the foot sole. The plantar fascia is not as flexible as muscle, and before warm-up, it is not prepared to absorb forces generated by jumping and running activities.
  • Know your limits: You should maintain an ideal work-rest balance. Overtraining can hurt your plantar fascia. Play within your limits and play carefully.

Treatment and Management of Plantar fasciitis:

The treatment of plantar fasciitis depends upon the stage and severity of the condition.

  • RICE for the acute stage: You must know that plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia. Just like other inflammatory injuries, you need to follow the RICE guideline. Take rest for 2-3 days from the game because it will protect your fascia from further inflammation. Icing can alleviate acute pain. Compression and elevation will provide pumping action to reduce the swelling.
  • Stretching for sub-acute stages: This stage (if the condition persists for more than two weeks) requires stretching of the plantar fascia. You should be careful while doing the stretching because deep pressure can trigger pain in the sub-acute stage.
  • Stretching and strengthening for chronic cases: If you have been suffering from plantar fascia for quite a long time (more than two months), you must know that your plantar fascia will be shorter than normal. Usually, pain is not severe in chronic cases so, aggressive stretching (e.g., ball rolls, deep fascial release) can work wonders for you. Strengthening exercises for fascia can prevent further injuries. Strengthening involves plantar flexing (downward bending) of your foot against a tennis ball.
  • Making use of foot insoles: Specially designed foot insoles are beneficial in reducing the pressure from your plantar fascia. It helps in preventing the repetitive irritation of the fascia. Use shoe inserts (insoles or orthotics). They will act as a cushion.

First Aid for Badminton Injuries

Badminton might look like a simple sport, but it is a fertile source for injuries. It has a lot of quick change in directions, jumps, landings, smashing, etc. knowledge of first aid is vital to reduce the intensity of pain and swelling and to lay a good foundation for rehabilitation.

The most advisable form of treatment is simplified with the acronym PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevation) 

  • Protection: this implies protection from further injuries. This is particularly important within the first 48hrs of injury)
  • Rest: removing the load from the injured area
  • Ice to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Compression: this is to reduce the tension in the affected area. Be careful to compress gently. Do not make it too tight as it can impede blood flow to the injured area.
  • Elevation

Most Common Badminton Injuries: How to Tell If I Need to See a Doctor

While a good number of these injuries can be managed at home, it is essential to look out for these signs to know when to see a doctor.

  • When the pain and swelling do not subside after performing PRICE for a while.
  • When there is the presence of a visible deformity or mass on legs or joints
  • Numbness and tingling sensation: this is referred to as paresthesia. It is an indication of possible nerve damage.
  • Inability to move or bend a joint
  • The inability to bear weight on the joint; this might be an indication of a severe orthopedic injury.

Most Common Badminton Injuries: Final Words

Badminton requires excellent agility, explosive power, and quick changes in direction which makes it demanding and a source of injuries. It is therefore essential to take the sport seriously by taking precautions and also maintaining a healthy lifestyle outside the court.

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