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Pickleball Takeover: 3 Ways to Avoid Injury

If you’re an adult between the ages of 18 and 54 in the United States, there’s a good chance you or a friend has picked up pickleball in the last couple of years. The sport grew by 4.8 million players in 2021 — that’s nearly 15% from the previous year, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on pickleball. In 2020, it grew by more than 20%.

The sport is gaining a multi-generational following, and while its fastest growth is in the 18-34 crowd, it’s also experiencing an exceptional amount of growth among those aged 35-54. Because of its appeal to that age group, particularly with those trying to get back into shape, we’ve compiled tips to help keep you on the court and off the bench.

1) Warming up to Pickleball? Then Warm up for Pickleball.
Many of our blog topics covering injury prevention begin with advice to warm up. Pickleball isn’t any different. That’s most especially true for those who haven’t been active in a while. Start slow and pace yourself. Even if you don’t pull a muscle, once fatigue and dehydration set in, your movement and coordination start to suffer. That’s when injuries are most likely to happen.

2) Thirsty for Pickleball
The majority of pickleball’s popularity is increasing with casual players. When just playing for fun, it’s easy to forget how important hydration is. Make sure to take plenty of water breaks to catch your breath, grab a drink of water, and rest your tired muscles.

3) Suit Up
This also goes back to casual play. It’s easy to overlook the importance of proper footwear when we’re playing and goofing around with friends. Proper footwork is key, particularly considering the bulk of injuries orthopedists see are in the lower extremities — specifically, strains in ankles and knees. Getting a good pair of hard-court shoes will decrease injury risk. You can further protect these joints with ankle and/or knee compression sleeves, which work to stabilize joints and keep them warm.

When the Unavoidable Happens

You can do all the right things to avoid an injury while playing pickleball, and sometimes an accident will still happen. A good first approach for treatment is RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory like Tylenol to help with swelling. However, if the injury persists or it’s more severe, our orthopedic specialists at Beacon are here to assess your injury and determine a plan for care. Schedule an online appointment today.