10 Common Sports Injuries In Badminton – And How to Get Back On The Court

Published April 29, 2021

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Though Badminton isn’t a contact sport, injuries are more common than you’d think.  There’s a lot of joint impacts, fast-paced footwork, shoulder rotation, and stretching to make contact with that hard to reach shot. This level of activity can often result in minor injuries.  Some injuries, though, are more serious than others, and the recovery time can really set you back on your training.  Learn how to identify and treat common sports injuries in badminton, so you can spend your time training on the court, instead of waiting in recovery. Here we’ll list some of badminton’s common sports-related injuries and take a look at how to prevent injuries in badminton as well.

The Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries In Badminton

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Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is likely to happen to most badminton players at some point.  It’s likely the most common badminton injury because of the demands of the game.  Ankle injuries occur during a sudden or unnatural stop, turn, slide, impact, or change in direction.  All of those motions happen on the badminton court, but coupling those quick changes in direction with an overtired player or improper footwear can create the perfect storm for injury.  

An ankle sprain is an injury to the soft tissue and ligaments in the ankle.  It can cause swelling, pain, bruising, tenderness, and discomfort.  A sprain has multiple levels of severity, and it can set you out of the game for weeks or even months. Upon return to the court, the ankle is at risk for reinjury.

An ankle sprain is sometimes confused for a break or fracture because of the level of pain.  Breaks and sprains are different types of injury classification.  The only way to know if an injury is a break or a sprain is to be evaluated by a doctor.  Imaging, such as X-Rays, can determine the level of injury. 

Sprains are typically treated with ice, elevation, and compression. Crutches may be issued to keep weight off the injured ankle for a while.  All injuries should be evaluated by a doctor, as they can best give proper guidance on treatment and rehabilitation. 

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Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff tears and pains are another common badminton injury that can be painful and can affect your quality of life on and off of the court.  A rotator cuff is a group of muscles that aids in lifting and rotating your arm at the shoulder.  It is basically what keeps your arm in its socket. Repeated overhead shots stretch those tissues, and can separate or tear under stress.  This same injury is brought on by the motions in baseball pitching and tennis. 

Rotator cuff injuries can cause pain or weakness when lifting, lowering, or rotating your arm.  Some sufferers of rotator cuff injuries can feel a ‘crackling’ sensation when rotating their arms.  This is referred to as ‘crepitus’ and is a definite sign of a rotator cuff injury.  Injuries to this group of muscles can cause a limited range of motion, making overhead shots painful or impossible.

If you have a nagging, or a sudden and painful injury of your rotator cuff, evaluation by a doctor is your next step.  Imaging can determine the type and severity of the injury and guide your medical team in choosing the best treatment option.

Rotator cuff injuries that are mild can be treated with non-surgical methods.  Resting the affected shoulder to avoid further tearing or injury will be recommended.  Icing the shoulder multiple times a day for short increments or wearing a brace to immobilize the arm may also be recommended by your doctor.

More severe injuries of the rotator cuff are often treated with surgery, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.  This type of surgery can be followed by pain and limited mobility for months, and are at risk of re-injury.

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Tennis Elbow

This type of injury is almost self-explanatory. The racket swings in tennis and badminton are very similar, and the elbow falls victim to another common badminton injury. A bad backhand serve technique can contribute to tennis elbow, but the mere act of repetitively swinging a racket can also cause this painful injury. Tennis elbow’s fancy medical name is lateral epicondylitis. The pain of tennis elbow is usually centralized around the ‘bump’ on the outer part of the elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscle attach.

Pain in your elbow should be evaluated by your doctor.  If they determine tennis elbow is the cause, rest and over the counter pain medicines can often provide relief as the condition heals on its own. 

In more severe or unrelenting cases, your doctor may attempt other methods including physical therapy, injections, or even surgery.  

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Shin Splints

Shin splints, or its fancy alter-ego: medial tibial stress syndrome, are characterized by a sharp pain on the inner side of the shin bone.  Shin splints are often associated with running but can occur in athletes who participate in any high volume, high activity level sport, including badminton.  Shin splints are a common injury in badminton and can often be avoided with a proper warm-up. 

Shin splints can be diagnosed with the help of a physician, and the leading treatment for shin splints is often rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicines.  Icing the shins after exercise, and proper footwear are preventative measures you can take if shin splints are a nagging side effect of a packed badminton schedule.

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Jumper?s Knee

Jumper’s Knee, also called Patellar Tendonitis, is a term used to refer to an inflammation of the tendon that stretches over the patella (knee). One of the primary causes of sports injuries like jumper’s knee is repetitive jumping on hard surfaces.  As a badminton player, jumping and landing on the court are unavoidable.  Jumping to reach overhead shots, create a perfect smash, or reset at your base position are all repeated impacts on the knee joint, causing stress on the patellar tendon.

Pain when running, jumping, or walking, swelling at the knee, or a tender feeling behind the lower part of your kneecap are all signs of jumper’s knee and should be addressed before the condition worsens. Your doctor can use x-ray imaging and a physical examination to determine if your injury is jumper’s knee or something more serious.

Resting, icing, and elevating the knee are all treatments your doctor may recommend.  These types of sports injuries are sometimes treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can be prescribed by a licensed physician, and shouldn’t be taken without the care and instruction of a doctor.  

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Wrist Strain/Sprain

The repetitive swing of a racket and the continuous impact with the shuttle (it can fly off of the racket strings at 300 mph) can create impact injuries to the wrist over time.  A wrist strain is an injury to the muscle or tendon in the wrist.  It can cause pain and tenderness in the wrist.  A wrist sprain is a bit more intense and less likely than a strain in regular badminton.  Sprains are usually the result of an unnatural overextension and possibly a tear to a ligament.  A sprain is more often due to a fall than the regular activity in badminton.

Severe wrist pain should always be evaluated by a doctor to determine whether the injury is a strain, sprain, or even a break.  Sprains are graded by severity, with a grade 3 being the most severe. A wrist sprain treatment is similar to that of an ankle, and your doctor may recommend you rest, ice, elevate and stabilize the wrist.  Compression may also be recommended.

Plantar Fasciitis

Common sport related injuries include plantar fasciitis, but this condition can affect non-athletes as well.  Plantar fasciitis usually starts as sporadic, sharp heel pain, but progresses into a more constant nagging condition.  One of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis in badminton players is inadequate footwear.  Shoe support can break down over time, and that can cause unnecessary stress on the fascia.  Plantar fasciitis is also more common in people who have ?flat feet?.  

In the case of plantar fasciitis, imaging isn’t usually used to diagnose – other than to rule out other causes of the pain.  Doctors will perform a thorough physical examination and make a recommendation based on the idea that plantar fasciitis is the most likely cause.  There are multiple treatments that your doctor may recommend including over the counter pain relievers, night splints, and physical therapy. 

It would be a good idea to invest in quality orthotic arch supports and/or adequate footwear.  In very severe cases where typical treatments aren’t offering relief, steroid injections or surgery may be the last resort.

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Tendonitis

Tendonitis is essentially the inflammation of a tendon and can affect most joints including the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hands, knees, and ankles.  Several of the injuries on this list of badminton ailments can fall under the ?tendonitis? umbrella, including tennis elbow and jumper’s knee.  Although the average American might not recognize the intense physical demands of the sport of badminton, sports injury and rehabilitation are a real part of professional badminton. 

Tendonitis is another condition that would require the care of a doctor.  IF your doctor suspects tendonitis is the cause of your injury, they would be less likely to require imaging, except to rule out other causes of pain.  It can typically be treated with over the counter pain medications, rest, and physical therapy.  

Tendonitis is also often treated with the ‘R.I.C.E.’ method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation.  

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Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles tendon rupture is a nasty badminton injury that often occurs in older players.  It can happen as a player pushes off in a sudden forward motion from the rear line of the court.  The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is essential in proper gait.  A complete tear of the Achilles tendon would be extremely painful and seriously affect the ability to walk.  

Seeking medical attention should be immediate, especially if you hear or feel a pop or a snap followed by intense pain and an inability to walk properly.  Treatment of the injury depends on the severity.   A very slight tear could be rehabilitated with non-surgical methods such as rest, ice, stabilizing the ankle, and over the counter pain medications.  A more serious Achilles tendon injury may need surgery and lengthy physical rehabilitation, as well as stability training. Complete recovery from a severe Achilles tendon rupture can take a year or longer.  This is sometimes a career-ending injury.


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Hamstring Injury

Hamstring injuries are sports-related injuries that many badminton players will face.  Like a sprain, there are tiered grades of severity when it comes to a hamstring strain.  A Grade 3 hamstring injury would be a full tear in one or more of the muscles. 

The ?hamstring? is the term used to refer to a group of muscles that run along the back of the thigh.  A less serious strain of this group of muscles will be nagging and painful, but a severe tear may make the afflicted athlete unable to walk.  The pain will be centralized to the back of the thigh and lower buttock.  

Treatment for a mild or moderate strain would be the R.I.C.E. method, as well as over the counter painkillers.  A very serious hamstring injury may require surgery, but treatment should be issued by a licensed physician who can properly diagnose your injury. 

Immediate Treatment of Badminton Injuries

If a nagging pain is creeping up on you during or after a game, the worst thing you can do is ignore it.  Chronic injuries are typically the result of procrastination and avoidance, and maybe a little denial as well.  Pausing your training briefly to seek medical advice is better than pausing training for months to treat a self-aggravated injury with lengthy physical rehabilitation.  

Most minor injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation, stabilizing braces or tape, and over the counter pain relievers.

Give your body time to heal from injuries with rest and treatment.  Learn your body’s limits, and practice injury prevention.  You are your body’s best advocate and can minimize your time off the court by taking care of yourself.  

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When to Seek Professional Treatment for Your Badminton Injury

There are basically two types of sports-related injuries.  The types of injuries are acute, and chronic (overuse).  Acute injuries occur from some immediate, traumatic event such as a fall, impact, or violent contact.  Chronic, or overuse injuries, tend to start slowly and get more serious after being left untreated for too long.

If rest, ice, elevation, and other at-home healing remedies for five or more days are not sufficient and your injury is not subsiding, or your pain is getting worse, it’s time to seek the help of a professional.  If pain is immediate and severe at the time of injury, it’s time to seek the help of a professional.  If the injury is affecting the enjoyment of your everyday activities outside of badminton, it’s time to seek the help of a professional.  If you have severe swelling, bruising, pain, or weakness in one or more of your limbs, it’s time to seek the help of a professional

Procrastination is an athlete’s worst enemy in the injury department.  The quicker you get reliable medical advice, the quicker you can rehab the injury and get yourself back on the court.

How to Prevent Badminton Injuries – Stop the Pain Before It Starts

Fear not fellow shuttlers.  There are plenty of proactive ways that you can prevent badminton injuries before they begin.  Here are a few different tips on how to lower the risk of injury during badminton:

Warm-Up

Warm-up is essential, not just in badminton, but in every physically demanding activity.  Your warm-up should begin with basic stretches that address all major muscle groups.  You should also include some form of cardio, such as light jogging, or another activity that gets your blood circulating and your heart rate elevated.  This delivers oxygen to your muscles before a badminton session and prepares them for activity. 

Your warmup should be at least 15 minutes, and no more than 30.  (Anything more than 30 is a workout, not a warmup!)  Make sure your warm-up ends about 15-20 minutes before your badminton training or game is set to begin.  The benefits of the warm-up will be lacking after about half an hour. 

Cool Down

Cooling down is almost if not as important as a warmup.  The main goal of a cooldown is to gradually lower your heart rate, breathing, and temperature as well as reduce the pooling of blood in your extremities.  It can also aid in clearing lactic acid that has built up in your muscles.  

Use Proper Equipment

Using proper equipment is a non-negotiable in avoiding injury.  The weight of your racket can be a significant cause of wrist, forearm, elbow, and shoulder injuries.  Improper, poorly fitting, or worn out badminton shoes can cause plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, and contribute to back pain and tendonitis in the ankles and knees. 

Don’t attempt to practice with a heavy training racket if you have not properly strengthened your forearm, wrist, and shoulder.  Training rackets are not recommended for players recovering from a previous wrist or forearm injury either. 

Stay in Top Physical Condition

Keeping yourself physically fit is probably your best injury defense.  Every muscle group is used in badminton.  Constant changes of direction, intense bursts of speed, jumping, running, and stretching are all part of the game.  Weakness or improper preparation can lead to stress beyond your body’s capabilities.  Let’s consider a hamstring strain.  Hamstrings and glutes work together.  If your glutes are out of shape, it can actually result in an injury to the hamstring. 

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Keep a Smart Diet, and Stay Hydrated

Proper nutrition is a secret weapon for elite athletes.  A balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals can provide bone and muscle strength, as well as higher energy levels.  Prepare well-balanced meals packed with healthy fats to reduce inflammation, natural sugars for long-lasting energy, and a mix of fruits and greens.  Protein can help muscle repair, and carbohydrates can also be an energy source and help regulate blood sugar during activity.

Badminton is a major calorie burner.  It doesn’t take long to work up a sweat, and with that comes the risk of dehydration.  Staying hydrated both on and off the court can prepare your body for the strenuous activity level required of badminton.  Playing while dehydrated can affect your power, reaction time, and mental process. Slow reactions, weakness, and poor decision making are obvious contributors to injury.   

Give Yourself Adequate Recovery Time

If you do get injured, be sure to give yourself adequate recovery time.  Your body will need time to heal and repair, and returning to the court too soon can cause the injury to re-aggravate or worsen.  Follow your doctor’s rest and rehabilitation recommendations, and don’t rush back to the court too soon.

8 Products to Keep Handy for Badminton Injury Prevention and Treatment

While none of these things can replace the care and advice of a medical professional, some products on the market can aid in practical recovery or prevention.  Here are some products to keep handy that can help prevent or treat common injuries on the badminton court:

  1.  Patellar Support Strap

This knee strap is a must-have for anyone suffering from Jumper’s Knee or Shin Splints.  This high-quality band is a one size fits all piece of equipment meant to speed up the recovery process.

  1.  Ankle Compression Sleeves

Compression is one of the four major treatments for sprains and strains of the ankle.  These compression sleeves are affordable and sleek and will be a bonus to utilize while icing that elevated ankle.  This piece of equipment is perfect for the athlete with a sprained or strained ankle, or a mild Achilles injury.

  1. Ultra-Zoom Ankle Brace

This ankle brace provides the support needed to stabilize the ankle without hindering natural movement.  It’s a great piece of injury-prevention equipment for someone worried about RE-injuring a previously sprained or injured ankle.

  1. Shoulder Brace

This shoulder brace has a built-in ice pocket and a stability strap for helping injured athletes recover from minor rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis of the shoulder, Thrower’s shoulder, or dislocations.  

  1. Wrappable Ice Pack for Joint Injuries

This ice pack stays in place for proper treatment of injured joints, tendonitis, strains, and sprains.  It is also a source of heat treatment after microwaving. The wrap is adjustable and the strap is breathable, making it the perfect recovery companion.

  1. Kinesiology Tape

This kinesiology tape can help support joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as stabilize ankles and wrists.  It’s precut and comes in multiple colors.  It can be used by athletes suffering from plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and joint sprains and strains.

  1. Badminton Shoes

The best badminton shoes for a badminton player are not always the same.  Some players have wide feet, narrow feet, or flat feet.  Some prefer more or less ankle support, while others look for repulsion in the soles.  Choosing badminton shoes that provide pain-free support is important.  

  1. Hamstring Compression Sleeve

This compression sleeve is perfect for the width of the thigh.  It offers compression relief to injured or strained hamstrings and can help aid in recovery or prevent re-injury.  A specially designed cuff helps keep this compression sleeve in place during activity. 


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Badminton Injury Recovery Mindset

Whether you’re a badminton athlete at the recreational or professional level, injuries that take us off the court can be devastating.  Losing our physical stress-relief outlet, disrupting our schedule, and living with pain can be depressing.  Keeping a positive mindset is vital in a quick recovery.  Rely on friends, family, and fellow athletes to hold you accountable in your recovery, and interact in a positive way.

Stay motivated, and don’t let these common sports injuries in badminton get you down.  They aren’t forever, and with hard work and proper medical supervision, you will be back on the court smashing shuttles before you know it.  For more tips on succeeding in this sport, check out some of our Badminton Advice posts.

**Note: The author of this post is not a medical doctor. All health issues should be overseen by a medical professional**

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