Badminton Injuries

A Conversation with Your Sports Podiatrist

Every sport comes with the risk of injury.
Badminton is no exception. Afterall, badminton is a non-contact sport,
so injuries are usually from overuse.
As Podiatrists, we are here to help
prevent you from developing injuries resulting in pain and disability.
Players are required to have explosive power in their wrists, legs, jumps and the
ability to change directions quickly, which can put stress on the tissues and cause injury.
Most injuries occur around the ankle region, most commonly being a
sprained ankle, followed by Achilles tendonitis.
Other lower limb injuries include patella tendonitis.
In this article, the lower limb injuries will be discussed in detail.

1. Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle, otherwise known as an ankle sprain,
involves ligament and tissue damage resulting in bleeding and swelling within the area.
Being the single most common injury in badminton. This intense pain can take 4-6 weeks of recovery time.
Some research reports suggest that ankle sprains account for around half of all injuries in badminton.
The most common mechanism of injury is a sudden twisting of the ankle during a jump.
The rapid changes in direction that are required during badminton can cause the ankle to roll over, particularly if the player is fatigued.
A notable cause of ankle injuries in badminton can be linked to the sole texture of your shoes. If the shoe has a high grip texture (meaning the shoe has little to no slip movement) then the risk to the ankles is increased.
To put it in perspective.
If the sole of your shoes feel like they are glued to the ground imagine then you are trying to move your feet around.
Your ankle needs to take more tension from the twisting action. This can cause a sprain.

What can you do to prevent a Sprained Ankle?

  1. Wearing the correct footwear that allows a small amount of ‘slide’ over the court surface can prevent an ankle twist.
  2. Applying an ankle brace or taping the ankle can also help to reduce the risk of a sprained ankle.
  3. To take it up a level and allow for more comfort and a better fit – Custom orthotics are often used to control the movement of the ankle from twisting. Making it the better alternative to braces and taping.
Research from basketball has shown that the injury incidence in people wearing custom orthotics significantly reduces the rate of injury compared to those athletes who do not wear them.

What should you do if you suffer a Sprained Ankle?

The best thing to do after you sprain your ankle is to follow the RICE protocol –
  1. Rest
  2. Ice (never apply ice directly to the skin).
  3. Compression
  4. Elevation 
  5. Referral
While ice therapy can be very effective at reducing pain,
it may also be necessary to use pain relieving medication.
Ensuring to rest and elevate the ankle will help reduce further damage.
To assist with immobilising the ankle, the use of a moon boot can be very useful for a few weeks.
Rehabilitation with a Podiatrist significantly improves the outcome following a sprained ankle.
In the later stages of sprained ankle rehab wobble board training is designed to assist the re-education of balance and proprioception.
proprioceptive training
According to research, patients who underwent balance training and
used custom orthotics as part of a
proprioception training programme
experienced significantly fewer recurrent sprains,
during a follow-up period than those who did not follow the program.
This suggests that balance training the ankle in a neutral position that the custom orthotics provide can be an effective way to prevent ankle instability and reduce the risk of recurrent sprains.

2. Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is a strong tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.
When the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, it feels tender and is difficult to move.
The most common cause of Achilles tendonitis is overuse.

Achilles tendonitis symptoms:

• Aching in the back of the ankle when you try to move it in any direction.
• Pain when you try to move the tendon in any direction. ˝If you can move the tendon, it means the injury is not too severe. But if you can’t move it, it means the injury is more severe.˝
• It is hard to walk and stand for a long time.
The pain usually comes on gradually and is more common in those aged over 40.
Often the tendon feels very stiff first thing in the morning. The affected tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side.
Podiatrists refer to this condition as Achilles tendinopathy.
The thickening of the Achilles tendon means a decrease in the tensile strength making the area more susceptible to rupture with continued sporting activity.

What can you do to prevent Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse condition,
which means that if you suddenly increase your activity level,
you could increase your chances of injury.
It is important that you pay close attention to the intensity,
duration and frequency of your badminton sessions
to make sure you are progressing correctly.
Ensuring frequent stretching and warm-up sessions is also important to obtain an optimal range of motion in your muscles.
Research shows that an ‘over pronated’ foot position (where the foot rolls inwards creating a flat foot) can place excessive strain on the Achilles tendon and cause Achilles tendonitis.
In this case, it is often useful to consult a chartered Podiatrist, who can carry out a biomechanical assessment.
If there is excessive pronation it is usually effective to create a
custom orthotic to support your arch and correct any lower limb problem limiting your movements.

What should you do if you suffer from Achilles Tendonitis?

If you’ve newly injured yourself and have initial acute symptoms such as bruising and swelling, then refer to the R.I.C.E.R directions. The Referral should be to a Podiatrist as they specialise in the lower leg. 
After the acute symptoms have subsided the key to recovering from Achilles tendonitis is to elicit a healing response by gently overloading the tendon.
This rehab could require up to three months off from badminton because the collagen tissue that the body uses to repair damaged tendons takes three months to lay down and mature.
Under the supervision of a Podiatrist, research has shown that recovery is optimized by using ‘eccentric muscle exercises.
Eccentric muscle work is when a muscle lengthens and contracts at the same time – this happens when you land and decelerate.
For example, when you land on the badminton shuttle with your foot you’re actually using your Achilles tendon to decelerate.
By doing eccentric muscle work on your badminton shuttle drills you’re mimicking the movement that your tendon is already doing.
This helps to induce a healing response in the tendon and is one of the most important things you can do to speed up recovery.
By progressively increasing the eccentric muscle force through the Achilles tendon, the tendon will adapt and get stronger.
A compression ankle support can be very effective in relieving heel pain due to Achilles tendonitis.
Applying compression at the initial phase to the heel and the arch of the foot, can support the strain on the Achilles tendon and provide rapid relief.
After the initial compression phase, a custom orthotic can be used to provide long-term structural support. This will prevent the heel from becoming flat and the arch from collapsing.

3. Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is a condition where the tendon connecting the knee cap to the shin bone deteriorates.
Patellar tendonitis is also known as ‘jumper’s knee’.
Knee pain is often the result of gradual wear and tear from activities such as jumping and landing, which often occurs during badminton.
The strain on the patellar tendon increases over time, and eventually, the tissue that makes up the tendon starts to show microscopic damage.
Patellar tendonitis often hurts when you’re active and worse in the morning. It can make a tendon feel stiff and look thicker.

What can you do to prevent Patellar Tendonitis?

Imagine if you went from never practising badminton to playing 5 hours a day.
Your patella tendon would be overloaded and you might get injured.
To avoid this, make sure to increase your practice gradually.
You can help the patella tendon to adapt by increasing the number of jumps and landings gradually, as well as by stretching your quadriceps and hip flexors.
Early diagnosis by a Podiatrist is better because treatment is more likely to be successful if it is initiated early.
A patellar tendon strap can help reduce the symptoms of minor cases of patellar tendonitis by reducing pressure on the tendon.
This pressure acts to reinforce support to the tendon, reducing the pull from the quadriceps to the patella tendon.
This can help alleviate symptoms during badminton.

What should you do if you suffer from Patellar Tendonitis?

If you suffer from Patellar Tendonitis, the first step is to get in touch with a Podiatrist.
A podiatrist can help you determine the best course of treatment by assessing your biomechanics.
Podiatrists analyse how you move and can advise you on weak muscle groups that are increasing tension on your patella tendon.
When the bones in the foot are not in the correct position, it can cause the knee to bear more force, leading to issues such as patella tendonitis
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You won’t need to worry about injuries when you’re in our care.

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