May 7, 2024 - News

Pickleball injuries increase as sport goes mainstream

A photo of a pickleball paddle and ball laying on a court.

A pickleball and paddle during the 2024 APP Vlasic Classic in Florida. Photo: David Berding/The APP/Getty Images

From overuse traumas such as "pickleball elbow" to sprains and even fractures, medical personnel are seeing more injuries as Washington's official state sport becomes mainstream, according to a study earlier this year.

Why it matters: Although pickleball has smaller courts and may require less ball chasing, players can still get traumatic injuries, like broken wrists and ankles.

  • They also face problems like tendonitis from repetitive pounding on a hard surface, the Mayo Clinic study — presented in February to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons — found.

By the numbers: Nearly 87% of all reported pickleball-related injuries occurred in participants over age 50, per another study published this year in Scientific Research.

  • But there are some simple things you can do to prevent them, per Sanj Kakar, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon.

Think of the three P's of prevention, said Kakar.

  • Warm up properly by doing long, slow stretches before taking your first swing.
  • Use the proper equipment — pickleball paddles are thicker, so you need not grip so hard.
  • And consider taking a lesson to make sure you're building on proper form.

Yes, but: Once injured, players should quickly apply the principles of RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain, per Seattle's Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City.

  • Check with your doctor before you start playing if you have been inactive or if you are injured, as some conditions require prompt medical attention.
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