Pickleball Popularity Still Surging, But So Are Related Injuries, Especially Among Older Adults
2 min. read
Baptist Health Orthopedic Care
As you may have heard, pickleball has been the fastest-growing recreational sport in the U.S. for years – and its rising popularity refuses to wane. But before you grab a paddle and volley serve – or drop serve – the ball, keep this in mind: Pickleball injuries are also on the rise, especially among older players who are attracted by the game’s seemingly less-physical demands – at least compared to tennis or badminton.
Pickleball is basically a mix of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Since the playing court is smaller than in tennis, and the ball moves slower, players of all ages are drawn to the sport -- from teenagers to retirees.
Essentially, it’s a sport that appears easy to pick up. And that way it can lead to overuse injuries or overexertion, explains Alex Mafdali, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.
“The most common injuries in Pickleball are lower extremity sprains/strains and core injuries, which we see in other
Groin injuries, sports hernias and abdominal muscle injuries are the more common “core muscle” injuries. Core muscles can include the abdominal muscles, oblique muscles, and thigh muscles.
“Since it's a sport that requires less stress on the body and it's easy to learn and play, a lot of the community is playing it more frequently and for longer periods of time,” explains Dr. Mafdali. “And that is increasing stress on joints, muscles and tendons.”
Other overuse injuries may include conditions in the foot (Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis) and the core muscles, which can include exacerbation of low back pain due to poor mechanics or hinging at the hips. Groin or hamstring tightness can also occur from a lack of strength, stability or overall conditioning for pickleball.
Dr. adds that traumatic injuries from pickleball can include the following:
- Knee: Meniscal injuries, ACL, MCL sprains/tears;
- Shoulder: Rotator cuff tears; impingement
- Wrist/Hand: Sprains, fractures;
- Hamstring: Tears;
- Ankle: Sprains, fractures;
- Achilles tears, ruptures.
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