Pickleball is one of America’s fastest growing sports and its popularity continues to grow as summer approaches. But as with many activities, injuries are likely to occur without proper technique and preparation.
“Over the past few years, I’ve definitely seen more injuries attributed to pickleball,” says Dr. Dunbar. “It’s one of the fastest growing sports in America and it’s especially popular with middle-aged athletes.”
Play hard, stay safe
It is important to understand the risk of injury when playing pickleball and other racquet sports. Slipping, diving, falling and tripping are all common ways to get injured. Dr. Dunbar notes that the most common pickleball injuries are:
- Calf and Achilles strains
- Tendonitis of the rotator cuff
- tennis elbow
- Knee injuries
Other, but less likely, injuries can include wrist fractures and strains to the shoulder, hamstrings, glutes, or quadriceps.
Fortunately, sports injuries, even those caused by pickleball, are highly preventable. Dr. Dunbar recommends always warming up before doing intense workouts or sports. “Dynamic warm-up exercises are great before activity,” she says. “Stretching after warm-ups can also be helpful, but don’t stretch a cold muscle.” Dr. Dunbar also stresses the importance of prioritizing stretching for people over 60, as they are more susceptible to injury. Another way to prevent injury is to start slowly and gradually increase speed and skill level.
Staying hydrated and consuming a substantial amount of nutrients such as carbohydrates to provide you with energy and protein to help with muscle growth can help prepare your body for intense activity. Having the proper footwear, equipment, and clothing can further prevent injuries and provide support.
When to ask for help
If you sustain a pickleball injury, you should treat it first with the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, and evaluation by a medical professional. If there is a traumatic injury with a risk of fracture, Dr Dunbar urges people to go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care and consider calling 911 if there is a deformity of the injured area or an inability to bear weight.
Key points to remember
While having fun and enjoying the warm weather this summer, a little preparation and care can go a long way. Warming up, stretching, hydrating and nourishing your body before an activity can help prevent injuries. If you hurt yourself while playing sports or being active this summer, try home care with RICE or consider calling 911 if it seems more serious.
If you believe you have a serious or chronic sports injury, our “Find a doctorcan help you find a Dignity Health doctor near you.