Is Badminton Bad for Your Knees? (Knee Injuries, Causes, Prevention,…)

I began playing badminton a couple of months ago, and lately, I’ve been having knee pain after my games. So, I was curious to know if badminton is bad for the knees. I did some research, and I find out that the answer cannot be given as a simple yes or no. It’s essential to understand the specific contexts and causes of knee injuries before arriving at conclusions.

Badminton is not bad for your knees as long as you use proper techniques, practice on your footwork, and take the necessary precautions.

Badminton, like many racquet sports, is hard on the knees. Think about it. There is a lot of turning, jumping, lunging, and twisting. Which body parts bear the most brunt of this? The knees, ankles, and feet. So these are the areas that are most prone to injuries. The knee is especially crucial as it is essential for mobility. Many top athletes have been forced to retire from games due to knee injuries.

But, we should also consider the fact that professional players can play several hours of badminton per day and their knees are fine. The reason is that they have efficient footwork, proper technique, and take necessary precautions. So, it is not a clear yes or no.

How knee injuries happen in Badminton

First, let us understand the components of the knee. The knee is made up of the thighbone or femur which is connected to the shinbone or tibia by the kneecap or patella. The bones are kept together by ligaments and the tendons connect the muscles to the bones. Knee injuries happen when any of these components are strained or impacted.

4 common causes of knee injuries in Badminton

1. Lack of proper footwear

The knees bear a load of the brunt when you run, jump, and suddenly change directions. This happens a lot during badminton. It is vital that you have the proper footwear to absorb the pressure, which would otherwise be entirely on the knees and feet.

Always wear shoes that are flat and with sufficient padding. The soles should have a good grip to avoid skidding and slipping while on the badminton court. Choose a tested and known brand instead of going for the cheapest. It is an investment that you will not regret.

2. Improper technique

In the heat of the game, the technique would be the last thing you would want to worry about. But having the proper technique is crucial for good performance and also for preventing injuries. Improve your form and technique, and you will improve your game, as well as reduce the risk of injury.

3. Excessive body weight

Excess body weight exerts constant pressure on the knees. When playing badminton, the stress that comes on the knees due to the extra weight can easily lead to ligament tears and muscle injuries. While badminton is a good exercise, playing badminton alone will not help you reduce weight. You would need to implement a proper diet plan and consistent exercise regimen to reduce the weight. Reducing body weight can help you improve your performance on the court as well.

4. Sudden intensive activity

Some players do not do sufficient warms ups and stretching exercises before engaging in an intense game. This can harm the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that are not accustomed to the level of intensity demanded from them. Slowly working up the pace of the activity is always wise and safe.

7 possible knee injuries in Badminton

Let us try to understand the possible knee injuries and their causes.

1. Jumper’s Knee

When there is a pain in the tendon that connects the skin to the kneecap, it is called the jumper’s knee. This is common among avid players of any type of racquet sport. This usually occurs due to repetitive jumping and landing that happens when playing racquet sports.

The pain could be minor or major. In case there is just a slight pain, you may want to consider reducing the frequency and intensity of the game till it subsides. In case of severe pain immediately consult an expert orthopedic physician before it worsens.

2. Knee dislocation

A knee dislocation occurs when, due to high impact, the ligaments that hold the bones of the knee together tears. This can lead to severe pain and numbness of the leg. The issue may be compounded by swelling of the leg.

While playing badminton, it is necessary to ensure that you do not play on undulated or slippery surfaces. This will ensure that you do not slip and fall. Heavy falls and sudden powerful lunging and twisting can lead to knee dislocation. Instances, where you collide with another player (your partner), can also lead to dangerous falls which can dislocate the knee.

In case of a heavy fall and severe pain in the knee, you may need to get an x-ray to ascertain that the knee is not dislocated.

Maintaining a reasonable body weight will also help as the weight exerted on the knees while jumping will be more, thereby increasing the chances of dislocation.

3. Ligament injuries

Ligaments that hold the bones together can tear under heavy stress. This can lead to pain and swelling. High impact jumps can cause the ligaments of the knee to tear. The main ligament called the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) which run diagonally in front of the knee can get the most affected leading to severe pain. When players land improperly after a jump or quickly shift weight while turning or twisting, the ACL could tear. In some cases, the pain could be excruciating and should be immediately attended by a physician or a sports doctor.

As with other types of injuries, this can be prevented if care is taken while playing to ensure proper form and technique. Taking precautions to avoid falls and accidents as well as avoiding overexertion.

4. Knee cartilage problems

The knee cartilage or the menisci provides a cushion between the femur and tibia and helps to smoothen the movements of the knee. The cartilage is rubbery and is prone to wear and tear.

Aging has an effect on the cartilage as it can degenerate with age, this can also happen due to overuse. Some people are more prone to this than others. Its symptoms are mostly knee pain and tightness in the knees. The knee cartilages can also tear while jumping or due to heavy impact.

5. Bursitis

There are small sacs of fluid around the knee cap, femur, and tibia. This allows for lubrication and fluidity of motion. Repetitive action and overuse can cause these to become inflamed and thereby to lead to considerable pain.

Generally, the inflammation subsides when no longer under stress. If the pain is continuing, it is better to take the help of a physician. Most athletes keep ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.

6. Tendon Tears

It is not uncommon for players to tear or hurt the tendons. These are tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. If you overly exert the muscles or fall, then it can affect the tendons. Common sense methods such as resting regularly and doing adequate stretching exercises and warm-ups should keep tendon injuries at bay.

7. Knee Fractures

Abnormal force, severe twisting, and heavy impact due to collision or falls can lead to knee fractures. This can be on the femur, tibia, or fibula. Fractures are not to be taken lightly and should immediately be attended to.

The major fractures might require the use of a plaster cast for some time. Avoid colliding with other team members or playing on slippery, uneven surfaces. While it is rare to fracture your knee while playing badminton, it is certainly helpful to remain cautious and take precautions before the game to avoid accidents and falls.

Tips to reduce the risk of knee injuries in badminton

1. Warm-up & Cool down

A regimen of thorough warm-ups before the game, as well as cool downs after, can ensure that the ligaments and the tendons do not get strained and tear during intense activity. While warms ups alone cannot prevent knee injuries, it does reduce the chances of their occurrence greatly.

2. Cross-training

Cross-training to improve your flexibility and agility can be a great way to protect you from knee injuries. It can also boost your performance on the court.

3. Stretching and strengthening exercises

Improving flexibility through regular stretching and strengthening exercises will ensure that the muscles remain limber.

4. Work on footwork (landing)

Improve your landing while playing. Being aware of your jumps and how you land on your feet can help you take better precautions. Bad landings are the cause of many knee injuries.

5. Good shoes

Good shoes that are flat-footed and can support intense movements such as turning, pivoting, lunging, etc. It is vital that the feet and ankles are protected along with sufficient padding to absorb impacts that may be transferred to the knee during jumps and lunges. This can really help you ward off many common injuries that happen when playing badminton.

6. Avoid doing heavy lunges

When you lunge to return the shot, the impact on the knee is high, as your body weight is suddenly shifting to one leg. If you are a regular player, it can adversely affect your knees in the long term. Try to soften the lunges or take more steps to hit the birdie rather than lunging.