CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) – During the pandemic, the popularity of pickleball exploded. Nearly five million players picked up a pickleball paddle in 2021, increasing its growth by 39% in the last two years. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association named pickleball the fastest growing sport in the U.S. But it may also be responsible for the fastest growing number of sport injuries among older adults.
The pickleball craze is showing no signs of slowing down.
“My favorite part of the game, that’s smashing the ball and they can’t return it,” Michael Callen told Ivanhoe.
It’s especially popular among an older crowd. While increasing in popularity, pickleball is also increasing in some challenges --- even for those who played tennis when they were younger.
Callen detailed, “The ball is smaller, the court size is smaller, so you are kind of put into a smaller frame. It is more of a challenge to keep yourself vertical.”
About 19,000 pickleball injuries occur every year. Ninety-one percent of those players are 50 or older. Common injuries include ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, wrist fractures, and hamstring or quadriceps muscle strain. So, what can players do to prevent these injuries? First is a proper warm up.
“It’s really arriving at least 15 to 20 minutes early, getting some light warm up to get your blood flow rolling,” shared Charles Bush-Joseph, MD, a sport medicine surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
Bush-Joseph recommends doing lateral steps, grapevines, high-knee marches, skipping and lunges to loosen muscles. Also, don’t skimp on the shoes. Get shoes that have good tread and are designed for tennis or pickleball played on a hard court. Good footing is your foundation for preventing falls. And you don’t need to slam the balls.
“It’s more of a game of finesse, where you dink the balls,” said Mary Keiser.
Taking these precautions can keep you in the game.
Another injury to be aware of on the pickleball court is heat stroke. Most pickleball courts are outdoors, and on a hot day, the court temperature can be five degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature. So make sure to stay hydrated and wear a hat or visor while in the sun.