Pickleball Injuries Rise With The Sport’s Popularity


What’s not to love about the nation’s fastest-growing sport that's taking the country by storm - pickleball? The sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is easy to learn and slower paced. As more Americans pick up a paddle, there are also growing numbers finding themselves in a pickle when dealing with a pickleball-related injury.

Luminis Health physical therapist Shelby Schaefer and her colleagues have noticed an increase in injuries related to pickleball amongst their patients, particularly in the older population who have more limited movement in their spine and hips. Schaefer said the low-impact sport gives players a false sense of security. Your chances of strains and sprains increase because you’re pushing your body too hard with a lack of preparation. Common pickleball injuries include strains and sprains of the back, knee and ankle, as well as elbow and wrist injuries.

Prep Your Body

All levels of sport require some training and warm-up. The greatest risk for injury in any sport, including pickleball, comes from not preparing your body for the sport or warming up.

Here are some recommended pre-pickleball stretches for different parts of your body:

  • Shoulders — Cross-body stretch. Begin standing in an upright position. Raise one arm in front of your body with your thumb pointing up. Grasp the outside of your arm with your other arm and apply gentle pressure until you feel a stretch.

  • Hamstrings — Forward lean stretch. Begin sitting upright with one leg straight forward and your heel resting on the ground. Bend your trunk forward, hinging at your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold this position.

  • Quadriceps — Standing knee bend. Begin standing in an upright position. Step forward with one foot and lower down into a mini- lunge position. Return to standing and repeat on the other leg.

  • Calves — Standing calf stretch. Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall. Put one leg about a step behind the other leg, with toes pointed toward the wall. Keep the back heel on the floor, bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Repeat on the other leg.

Helpful warm-ups before playing pickleball include squats, lunges, walking butt kicks or marches and army swings.

It’s also important to exercise outside of pickleball to keep up your upper and lower body strength.

Overuse Injuries

When considering how often to play pickleball, think about your typical routine. If you haven’t played the sport and aren’t typically active, ease into it by playing once or twice a week. If you are regularly active and physically fit, daily pickleball play may be just fine. Remember to listen to your body — it will tell you when you need some rest and recovery time.

Complements for the Court

Other activities that are a nice complement to pickleball include water aerobics, yoga and Pilates. One final tip to ace the sport — play pickleball against an opponent who is at a similar ability level as you. It’s best not to play competitively when you are learning the sport.


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