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Don’t Be Sidelined by Pickleball Injuries

Get insights on how to prevent sprains, strains and eye injuries

Don’t Be Sidelined by Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. It’s a fun, social way for people of all ages to be active. “But the recent boom in popularity has brought a rise in pickleball-related injuries,” says primary care sports medicine physician Xander Arwand, DO, with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute. Here’s how to stay safe while enjoying yourself on the pickleball court.

Get in the game

If you’re new to pickleball, think of it as a mashup of badminton, tennis, table tennis and Wiffle ball. It’s played, indoors or out, on a badminton-sized court with a net a little lower than a tennis net. The equipment consists of a lightweight paddle and a plastic, baseball-sized ball.

Pickleball has a reputation for being tennis lite. But don’t let that lull you into carelessness. “In older players, the number of pickleball injuries per year now rivals the number of tennis injuries,” Dr. Arwand says.

“In older players, the number of pickleball injuries per year now rivals the number of tennis injuries,” - Xander Arwand, DO

Be aware of the risks

Playing pickleball can boost your health and well-being. But it may also cause injuries such as:

  • Ankle sprain, an overstretched or torn ligament near an ankle, often caused by falling or a twisting motion
  • Hamstring strain, a pull or tear in a muscle on the back of the thigh, often due to changing direction quickly
  • Wrist or finger fracture, a broken bone that may result from the force of falling onto an outstretched hand
  • Tennis elbow, inflammation or tiny tears in the tendons around the elbow caused by damage from overuse
  • Eye injuries, such as tearing of the retina, which may result from being struck in the eye by a ball

Know how to play it safe

These precautions can help you avoid getting into a pickle on the pickleball court.

Do stretches before and after every game. “Tight muscles are more easily injured,” Dr. Arwand says.

Wear court shoes made for racquet sports.  They offer better stability for side-to-side motion than running or walking shoes do.

Don protective sports glasses or goggles. Make sure they have shatterproof polycarbonate lenses. If you play outdoors, look for UV protection as well.

Consider taking lessons to learn proper form. A qualified instructor can show you how to hold your paddle correctly and keep your feet stable.

Good technique on the court improves your odds of staying injury-free - and winning games!

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

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