Safeguarding Your Game: Understanding and Preventing Pickleball Injuries 

Pickleball has recently experienced a significant popularity surge in the United States. This surge in popularity has been fueled by a diverse range of individuals, including seniors, families, and recreational sports enthusiasts.

Like any sport, pickleball has a risk of injury.

Common Pickleball Injuries

Knee, ankle, and elbow injuries are the most common injuries among pickleball players. For instance, a trip, an awkward twist or a fall tend to cause acute pickleball injuries.

Some examples of acute injuries we see include:

  • Knee Injuries: Quick changes in direction, pivoting, and sudden stops can stress the knees, leading to injuries such as ligament sprains or meniscus tears.
  • Sprained Ankles: Ankle sprains are one of the most prevalent injuries in pickleball. Quick lateral movements, changes in direction, or landing on an uneven surface can cause the ankle to twist, resulting in sprains.
  • Back Strains: Twisting, reaching, and bending movements during pickleball can strain the muscles and structures of the back, leading to back pain or muscle spasms.

Dr. Matt Daggett, Sports Medicine Surgeon, shares some tips for playing pickleball safely

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Preventing Pickleball Injuries

The benefits of exercise and social interaction outweigh the risks of injury. However, our team does highlight a few tips to keep you on the court.

  • Warm Up. Gentle stretching, light aerobic exercises, and mobility drills can help prevent muscle strains, joint sprains, and other injuries. For older adults, we recommend a longer warm-up.
  • Stop Playing When Tired. Playing when fatigued increases your chance of injury. If tired, take a break.
  • Take It Slow. New to pickleball? Start in a less competitive environment first.
  • Strength Training. Pickleball has gained popularity among all age groups, especially older generations. Maintaining muscle strength, flexibility, and overall physical fitness is key to injury prevention for older adults engaged in sports. Resistance training, core exercises, and balance training should be prioritized to build a strong foundation and support the demands of sports activities.
  • Technique. Like all sports, focus on using proper technique and form to minimize the risk of injuries. This includes using appropriate sports equipment, like proper footwear.

Have Fun

“Listen to your body.” Dr. Daggett tells his athletes of all ages not to continue playing when tired. You are at a higher risk of injury when your body is tired. Stay hydrated. Don’t overdo it. Play for fun.

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