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Badminton Rackets and Injuries
Badminton is one of the fastest racquet sports in the world, and it involves throwing your arm towards the shuttle very quickly. As a result of these violent actions, many players develop repetitive shoulder injuries. The more you play, the more likely you are to develop chronic shoulder problems. Injuries are the bane of sports, they can lead to frustration and misery, and slowly rob you of your enjoyment. So I decided to find out if a badminton racket has the potential to cause injury.
I have looked closely at the research on racquet science and a few key terms seem to be related to how we incur injuries directly from playing certain badminton racquets.
The first term that came up was work. Work is the energy required to produce a certain shuttle speed. It measures the efficiency of the badminton racket. The more efficient your badminton racket, the less effort you need. So a weak work racquet is good for you. A high work racket is bad because you have to put in more work to achieve the same shuttle speed. Think of work as the power of snowshoes.
Another key term is shock, which is the loading of the racket following a sudden change in kinetic energy. This concerns the slowing down of the racquet upon impact with the shuttlecock. After the impact energy is lost, the shuttle receives some of that energy and the rest is used to bend the frame. If the frame is very rigid, it will not absorb this energy, but it will be dumped into your arm. High shock is bad for injuries.
Research has proven that the best type of racquet to use to achieve maximum power is one that is heavy with a light head balance. More mass placed near the handle allows for easier swinging. More mass placed at the tip makes it harder to swing. Think how hard it is to swing a hammer, with all that weight placed at one end. Now, if you hold the hammer with the weight placed in your hands, it’s much easier to swing.
There are two schools of thought regarding weight. Some claim that a light racquet will allow you to swing faster, and therefore create more speed at impact, which will result in faster shuttle speed. The other side of the argument is that a heavy racquet will have more mass at impact, despite less swing speed, and that extra weight will create the necessary shuttle speed. However, momentum is what matters in a collision.
The lightweight racquet will slow much faster after impact, putting more pressure on your shoulder. You have to work harder to get shuttle speed with light racquets. A faster swing speed means less control. Over time, this lightweight racquet will demolish your arm compared to a heavier racquet. The heavy racquet will not slow down as much after impact, and therefore less pressure is exerted on you.
The modern trend in all racquet sports is to have lightweight racquets with balance in mind. At first glance, it seems like a good combination for creating power. More mass at the top will help the racquet crush the shuttlecock at impact. However, more mass at the tip makes it harder to swing. Do you remember the example of the hammer? It takes more effort on your part, you have to work harder to achieve the same shuttle speed as a head heavy and light racquet. Also, head-heavy racquets feel sluggish and sluggish.
Here’s the bottom… A light, heavy head is best for performance and best for avoiding injury.
As an example, I looked at the balance and weight specs of the most popular badminton manufacturer, Yonex. None of the Yonex models have head-light balance, many of them are heavy like the muscle power series, while the nanospeed series seem to be slightly head-heavy. What makes these racquets even worse for injuries is that many of them have stiff frames, which increases vibration.
So what can you do to turn your racquet into a powerful weapon that prevents injury?
Add weight to the handle. You can do this by adding extra tape. If you’re the type of player who buys a racquet and then applies large amounts of overgrip to the shaft, you’ll have shifted the balance point, probably without even realizing it. There is also a little gadget called lead tape, and the idea is to apply this tape to the head of the racquet. This will create a head-heavy balance. Many players use this band because they think it will give them more power. We now know that all that lead tape will make it harder to swing the bat and cause the most injury to your shoulder over time. What I would do is buy some of this tape and apply it to the grip, then put the overgrip on it.
The next time you buy a new badminton racket, make sure you know all the details, such as weight and balance. Specify the weight and balance point you want. It might just prolong your playing career and help you avoid injuries.
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