There is nothing worse than getting injured when playing sports. However, the reality is that, even in non-contact, low-impact sports like ping pong, injuries are inevitable.
This may come as a surprise to you as many people consider the game to be relatively safe since the amount of movement required is not as much as it is in badminton or lawn tennis.
Below, we examine 7 of the most common ping pong injuries and how you can avoid them.
7 Common Ping Pong Injuries
1. Muscle Strains
In table tennis, muscle strains always result from the quick and sudden moves that are necessary when playing the game. Improper exercise and poor warmup routine before the game starts is also a major contributor to muscle strain.
Therefore, before you step up to the ping pong table, it is vital that you warm your muscles up and get them properly relaxed. Doing this will ensure that you do not strain them or suffer from pain as you play table tennis.
Before each game, ensure that you stretch and warm up for a period of at least 10 minutes.
2. Sprained ankles
At some point in their lives, all ping pong players will have to contend with a sprained ankle. This is a common injury among table tennis players but, unlike injuries to other parts of the body like the wrist or shoulder that are often mild, a sprained ankle tends to be acute. Because of this, it is advised that you seek attention from a qualified doctor or physiotherapist if you sprain your ankle instead of trying to treat it yourself.
You can avoid spraining your ankle by selecting footwear that has good grip and a low heel in order to accommodate the quick and sudden movements necessary when playing ping pong. Today, most sportswear stores offer shoes that have been specifically designed to handle the lateral movements of table tennis players. Besides buying appropriate footwear, you should work on building up your ankles’ flexibility and strength, as well as that of your lower body muscles.
3. Shoulder and wrist injuries
During the game, there is a lot of shoulder movement. As the most mobile joints in the body, your shoulders make the most rapid and unpredictable movements. If you suffer an injury to your shoulder joint, it is vital that you seek urgent medical attention because the pain will be acute and this type of injury could pose long-term health risks. You can avoid shoulder injuries by making sure that you do not strain your muscles beyond their limits when you play and also by maintaining correct shoulder alignment.
On the other hand, wrist injuries are a common occurrence among people who are new to table tennis. The main cause of this type of injury is when the wrist is suddenly swung out, resulting in a snapping impact. To avoid injuring your wrists, do not put pressure on them during strokes.
4. Elbow problems
Generally caused by overusing the hand, arm or forearm muscles, these types of injuries can result in crippling pain on the outer part of your elbow. There are also injuries to the inner elbow known as “golfer’s elbow.” In either case, the injuries are often quite severe and could take a long time to fully heal.
If you find that the pain is unbearable, consult a physiotherapist for help. However, flexibility and strength exercises and the use of a tennis elbow brace are usually sufficient to remedy minor elbow problems. Regular workouts involving your entire arm minimize the chances of suffering elbow problems.
5. Calf Strain
When a ping pong or tennis player overuses their calf muscles for a long time without getting sufficient time to rest, they are likely to encounter calf strains and injuries.
In addition, ping pong players may find themselves standing for too long, injuring their calf muscles. As with most muscular injuries, proper warmup before matches and sufficient training and conditioning helps to prevent calf strain.
6. Knee joint injuries
The knee joints are among the most stressed body parts in any sport, which means that it is a common sight to see table tennis players with straps around their knees. While playing ping pong, it is important to avoid putting too much pressure on your knees, particularly when you lean to one side.
Although some knee injuries can cause severe pain and restrict your movement, most of them go away once pressure is relieved. If you are to avoid injuring your knees during a game, make sure that you build up your lower body strength and practice proper playing techniques to avoid twisting your knee.
7. Racket impact injuries
Racket impact injuries are unlike the rest of the problems mentioned above, since they are more common in doubles ping pong than in singles games.
They are impact injuries which occur when a player accidentally hits a partner with the racket during the game. Racket injuries, regardless of your equipment, can be avoided by staying alert and maintaining clear and constant communication with your partner.
All said, ping pong has always come with a relatively low risk of injury because it is a non-contact sport played in a highly controlled environment. Still, the examples above show that it is still possible to get injured.
The majority of the injuries discussed are due to overplaying and failure to take enough breaks. Avoiding injury is also down to remaining generally fit and always warming up before a game. If you suffer a severe ping pong injury, it is important to seek the advice of a physiotherapist or doctor.