Pickleball: Staying Safe in the Kitchen
One of the fastest growing sports in the United States is Pickleball. In fact, between 2019 and 2021 pickleball was THE fastest growing sport.
It is estimated that there are now over 5 million pickleball players. The sport is linked to a combination of ping pong, tennis and badminton where a wooden or plastic paddle is used to strike a hard plastic ball over a net. Several of the rules are comparable to tennis but is played on a smaller court and requires less overhead movement. The smaller scale of the game and being less strenuous on the body has led to the game’s popularity with individuals of all ages. This does not mean that the game doesn’t place strain on the body and as it grows so does the occurrence of injuries.
With pickleball growing and seeing an influx of new players to the game of all ages, skill levels and physical activity backgrounds there has been an increase in injuries. Players often describe pickleball as addictive, leading to playing multiple times per week and several matches per day. For newcomers to the game and ones that go from not being as physically active to playing multiple times per week it can set up potential acute injuries. While more experienced players become more susceptible to overuse injuries from playing so often.
As pickleball is played on a smaller court it often requires quick motions side to side, forward and backward. This movement places significant stress on the lower extremities of the body that includes hamstrings, adductors which are the muscles on the inside of the thigh, the knees, Achilles, ankles and feet. The more common acute injuries that can occur are muscle strains, knee sprains or meniscus tears, Achilles tears and sprained ankles. Chronic injuries that can occur are lower back pain, knee pain, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Although lower extremity injuries are most common in the sport, upper extremity injuries occur as well. These injuries are most often seen at the elbow in the form of tennis elbow or what is known in the sport as pickleball elbow. Shoulder injuries are not as common as most of the activity is underhanded as opposed to overhead in other racket sports. Any of the above-mentioned injuries can affect a player’s level of play and even result in the inability to play for various periods of time.
There are steps that can be taken to aid in preventing injuries, this includes stretching prior to playing and a good dynamic warm up to prepare your body for movement. The primary areas that should be addressed when stretching are the hips, hamstrings, and calves in the lower body along with the shoulders and forearms in the upper body. One of the best things that a player can do is to warm up on the court lightly hitting the ball back and forth with the competition prior to gameplay. The combination of stretching and warmups increases blood flow along with flexibility of muscles resulting in better preparation for those side to side, forward and backward movement mentioned earlier.
To learn more about ways that you can prepare for Pickleball or to treat injuries occurred while playing we would be glad to work with you at PRO Physical Therapy! We want our recreational athletes to stay safe, healthy and perform at their highest level!
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