Pickleball is currently one of the fastest-growing sports in America, and it’s gaining popularity in other countries as well. Like all sports, there is a risk of injury, especially in a sport where many participants are 50 years old or older.

The sport’s popularity can be attributed to its unique blend of tennis, racquetball, and ping-pong. While it remains an active sport, it’s not as advanced as tennis. Additionally, the strong social culture around pickleball contributes to its popularity. However, as people delve into “new” sports, there is an increased risk of injury since the body isn’t yet accustomed to the specific demands of the activity.

With an estimated 400 million injuries per year related to pickleball, this article will explore common injuries in pickleball and offer advice on injury prevention.

  1. Elbow Pain: Similar to tennis elbow, pickleball players often experience tendinosis, tendinopathy, or tendinitis due to the repetitive nature of the sport. To prevent this injury, it’s crucial to strengthen the forearm, wrist, and elbow. Using the correct grip on the racket and improving your swing mechanics, while involving the hips and core more than the elbow, can significantly reduce the pressure on the elbow.
  2. Rotator Cuff Injuries: Pickleball’s overhead hitting can lead to shoulder and rotator cuff pain. Proper thoracic spine mobility is essential to position the shoulder correctly and can help prevent these injuries. Pre-game rehabilitation exercises focused on shoulder and rotator cuff strength are advisable.3
  3. Knee Pain: Similar to tennis, pickleball involves a lot of footwork, bouncing, and constant stop-and-go movements, which can lead to tendonitis, meniscus injuries, and hamstring strains. Preparing with footwork drills and dynamic movement exercises can strengthen the legs, making them more adaptable to the sport’s demands.
  4. Achilles Tendon Injuries: Given the sport’s dynamic jumping, hopping, and footwork, Achilles tendon injuries can occur if the tendon is not resilient enough to absorb and deliver force. Proper footwear, barefoot strength exercises, and leg strengthening are essential to mitigate this risk.
  5. Back and Hip Pain: The bending, twisting, and dynamic movements in pickleball can place pressure on the hips and back, leading to hip, lower back, and pelvic pain. It’s crucial to maintain good hip mobility, hip strength, and core strength to prevent these injuries.

If you’re experiencing any of these injuries due to pickleball, we can help you. We understand that being out of your sport can be frustrating but when you do the right things, not only can you get back, but you can get better, and oftentimes, we find that people are way better than when they started!           

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