Pickleball injuries are bringing a whole new set of patients into my practice –with a whole new set of injuries.
I like to say pickleball is killing me because I am now inundated with requests for help from friends, existing clients and referrals who are suffering with pickleball injuries. But I’m not the one who is getting hurt here. These injuries are specific to pickleball and to the people who play the sport. (Actually, there is some debate right now as to whether pickleball really is a sport, but I won’t get into that.)
Pickleball injuries can be serious.
Let me tell you frankly: Whether it is a sport or not, pickleball is certainly no joke. The pickleball injuries that average people bring to me can be as serious as the injuries I see in professional golfers, major league baseball players and NHL hockey stars.
I am best known as a therapist who excels in treating and preventing low back pain. Back pain is certainly my specialty, but I find I am quickly and quietly becoming an expert in pickleball injuries as well.
There are many reasons why so many people are getting injured in a game that is supposed to be leisurely, a game anyone can play. Pickleball is all that, but lurking in the game are a number of injuries just waiting to happen. And these pickleball injuries are due to the very nature of the sport, the equipment it requires and the age and general fitness level of most of the people who play it.
Pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in the United States, with an estimated five million regular players. In the European Union they have a similar game called pádel, the Spanish word for paddle. Both games require the serious attention of fitness and medical professionals if we are to prevent injuries.
Pickleball has its detractors.
Rick Reilly, a 65-year old contributing columnist for The Washington Post, recently wrote a humorous column titled “Pickleball Is the Worst.” I won’t get into his sociological and societal criticisms of the game here, but he makes some good points about pickleball’s physical risks, particularly compared to its limited fitness benefits.
“And yet, somehow picklers manage to get hurt. When I call my buddies to do stuff now, half the time they’re injured. So far, they’ve had a torn Achilles’, a ripped rotator cuff, a blown-out knee, a pickleball elbow and one black eye.”
He offers this admonition: “Remember, kids: Every time you see a new pickleball court open, an orthopedist gets a new boat.”
I’m not going to buy a boat on pickleball injuries, and I suspect that none of my physical-therapist colleagues are getting rich, either. But pickleball injuries are definitely increasing my bottom line. I’d like to change that dynamic so that people pay me to prevent injuries rather than fix them, and I have found a way. So please read on.
What’s Special About Pickleball?
Before we get to my solution, let’s talk a bit more about why people suffer pickleball injuries. Despite Rick Reilly’s criticisms, it is still a relatively fast-paced game, with a lot of short strides and quick stops. Second, the average age of a pickleballer is 38, and 50% of players are 55 and older. And face it, folks, pickleball is NOT shuffleboard. It requires quick movement. The ball doesn’t bounce very high, so it also requires a lot of lunging and bending down toward the ground to hit the ball.
As we get older, we are more prone to strains, sprains and fractures. It happens to all of us—to me and to the world’s great athletes as well as the life-long couch potato who finally decides to heed his doctor’s advice to get more exercise. Combine the age and fitness level with the requirements of the game and what do you get? Pickleball injuries—and lots of them.
The Most Common Injuries
The five most common pickleball injuries reported are Achilles strains or tears, shoulder problems, low back pain, elbow and wrist pain and knee injuries. And the number 1 reason in my book for all these pickleball injuries is that people don’t warm up properly. Don’t let the ease of adopting and becoming proficient at pickleball fool you. You need to warm up, and you must direct your warmup to what pickleball will require your body to do. A proper warm up would prevent or limit the severity of most pickleball injuries.
Learn to Prevent Pickleball Injuries on H3TV
If you enjoy pickleball, then by all means keep playing. But be smart, play smart and stay healthy. I have developed a new pickleball series in my online fitness program, H3TV. H3TV already had scores of videos with detailed programs for different activities, goals and fitness levels. There are programs designed to prevent injury, make you stronger, give you greater stability or flexibility, treat pain or simply be more fit.
The pickleball series features 10 videos dedicated to helping you reduce the chance of injury and rehab from a present injury. The videos are broken down into exercises and postures for different parts of the body, so you can go easily to the video that will help you the most. Most importantly, THERE IS A VIDEO THAT WILL TEACH YOU A PROPER PICKLEBALL WARM UP.
Be good to your body. Click this link to get what you need to keep yourself in the game or get back to playing the game that you love.