Injuries such as ankle strain, Achilles tendon strain (back of the ankle), heel bruise, wrist fracture, knee, hamstring, groin, quad strain or shoulder strain are common to the Pickleball community. In addition, pickleball players should consider themselves at risk of injury for a few reasons.
Age - According to USA Pickleball, the sanctioning body of Pickleball in the United States, the average age of players is 38 years old. However, a majority of those who play 8 or more times a year are 55 years or older.
History – The sport was created in 1965 as a sport that the entire family can play. By nature, the sport is accessible for all ages and stages to play with varying levels of athletic ability.
Popularity – In 2020, the number of Pickleball players in the United States grew 21.3 percent, and the trend is not slowing down. As more first-time players try out the sport, they may face injuries if they are not aware of proper injury prevention steps.
Pre-match steps for injury prevention
As outlined by USA Pickleball and recommended as general best practices in sports medicine, pre-play injury prevention includes a combination of activity and gear.
- Warm up with 5 to 7 minutes of a cardio activity that fits your fitness level. Some ideas are jogging in place or walking around the court.
- Stretch your arms, legs, back and shoulders holding each for 15 seconds and resting for 5 seconds.
- Wearing proper footwear for your activity level and foot type. If you are not sure what your unique footwear needs are, consider a shoe fitting with your local independent footwear retailer.
- Use targeted compression bracing with medical-grade compression to prevent reoccurring injury. When you apply pressure to the “problem” muscle you shorten and therefore strengthen it. Compression also relieves swelling, promotes blood flow, and supports without restricting movement.
Post-match steps for injury prevention
Your post-play routine is just as important to help your body properly recover and rest.
- Cool down with low-intensity movement like walking to bring your body back to its resting state.
- Repeat your pre-match stretches focusing on longer holds and deeper stretches. Do these slow and stop if there is pain or if you are worried about a potential injury.
- You can wear compression bracing and socks for up to 8 hours after play to help speed the recovery process and reduce swelling.
Pickleball players may find themselves at a higher risk of injury due to age, novelty, and gear. In order to prevent injury it is important to stretch pre and post play, warm up, cool down, and incorporate quality compression bracing and socks as needed for extra support.