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Pickleball Benefits and Injuries

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Pickleball is a great sport for all ages with many positive benefits

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton, which means there’s a lot of running, agility and swinging. These movements can equate to a decent aerobic workout, upper body movements and other muscular strengthening. Aerobic and endurance exercises strengthen your heart, improve circulation and improve the heart’s ability to pump blood to your muscles – just playing 3-4 pickleball games a week can provide these benefits. Even in low-intensity games, pickleball can still be a full-body workout. Pickleball can be a great way to meet friends or improve your mental health.
With its rise in popularity, Pickleball is also experiencing a rise in injuries. Even though it’s less physically demanding than its tennis counterpart, pickleball is easier to pick up later in life.  When people decide to start playing, they often aren’t as active as they have been in the past. About 90% of patients with pickleball injuries were over 50 years old.  Players go from a normal level of activity in their day-to-day to a significant increase in their activity, which can lead to injury. These types of injuries are not unique to pickleball.  Significantly increasing activity level without proper conditioning increases the risk of strains, sprains, teats, and other injuries. In the case of pickleball, the game is highly accessible to an older demographic. Pickleball is unique where people are playing the sport for the first time in their 50s-60s. People do not typically move with bursts of movement in everyday life as they do in pickleball which involves a lot of swinging, cutting, lunging, quick stopping, and burst running.  When you begin to start and stop with force, without performing that movement in a while, it can lead to sprains, strains, falls, and other injuries. 

The most common pickleball injuries and issues can be grouped into four categories: sprains and strains, overuse, traumatic injuries, and chronic pain. 

  • Sprains & Strains: These injuries could involve upper and lower extremities such as calf strains, hamstring strains, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprain, etc. 
  • Overuse (Tendonitis): Overuse injuries occur during repetitive motions and increase activity in a short period of time. This can include Achilles tendon or rotator cuff injuries. 
  • Traumatic Injuries: Most traumatic injuries involve slips and falls.  As you get older, your balance, perception, and reaction time may decrease. This can lead to ankle, fracture, wrist sprains, or shoulder tears.
  • Chronic Pain: Chronic issues arise when underlying issues flare up due to increased activity. Many people over the age of 50s may have arthritis due to wear and tear. With increased activity, previously controlled issues like arthritis may get aggravated and require additional attention – this could include pain related to knee arthritis, shoulder arthritis, elbow arthritis.
The best way to avoid these injuries is to gradually increase playing time and physical activity rather than higher intensity in the beginning. As with any sport, be sure to warm-up before you play, use proper equipment, wear good shoes, and stay hydrated.
If you are experiencing acute or prolonged pain, it’s best to take a break and allow your body to recover and prevent additional harm. It is also recommended to seek medical attention if you don’t improve within 4 weeks of pain or injury. We are here to help if you are experiencing pain or injury related to joints, muscles, tendons, or other musculoskeletal issues. We provide a variety of safe and effective musculoskeletal treatments that range from conservative therapies to non-invasive procedures to help you heal faster and prevent future injuries. We pride ourselves in ensuring our patients’ musculoskeletal health is a top priority. We focus on mobility, flexibility, and stability across all aspects of the musculoskeletal spectrum to include muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, and other interconnective tissues. These are all must-haves for a healthy and fun pickleball experience. 

Staying healthy, injury free, and pain free is very important for pickleball players, especially if you are over 50.

Joint health importance and improvement should be part of our daily regiment

Ways to improve bone and joint health include a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens are especially rich in calcium and other minerals that can help both your joints and bones. If you exercise, be sure to choose low impact exercises that do not place too much strain on your joints. Many people choose walking, cycling or swimming to stay in shape. Yoga and gentle stretching can help keep your joints more flexible, too. Lifting small weights can also improve your bone density.

Exercise also improves mood, reduces stress and boosts your immune system. The best time to fight osteoporosis is before it begins. Bone and joint health are a part of your overall wellness. You should also talk to your doctor, as certain medications (even over the counter ones), can leech calcium from your bones.

If you or your loved ones are experiencing pain or injury contact us for diagnosis, treatment, and future prevention.

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