Pickleball has experienced a massive surge in popularity, capturing the attention of sports enthusiasts nationwide. However, the fastest-growing sport in America comes with its risks. In fact, according to a recent research note by UBS analysts, pickleball-related injuries are contributing significantly to the overall medical cost trend this year. This article delves into the most common pickleball injuries and how players can take proactive steps to prevent them.
The Alarming Statistics: According to the UBS research note, pickleball-related medical costs are projected to account for a significant portion, ranging between five and ten percent, of the unexpected medical cost trend this year. In 2023 alone, these expenses in the United States could soar to a staggering $250 to $500 million. These statistics highlight the urgent need to address the common injuries associated with pickleball and promote preventive measures to mitigate the economic burden on individuals and the healthcare system.
- Sprained Ankles and Wrist Injuries: Sprained ankles and wrist injuries are among the most prevalent pickleball injuries. The quick lateral movements, abrupt stops, and uneven court surfaces increase the likelihood of twisted ankles, while repetitive wrist motions during shots can lead to strains or sprains. Players should prioritize wearing tennis/pickleball shoes with good ankle stability to minimize the risk and consider using ankle braces. Employing protective wristbands and practicing proper technique, including maintaining a firm grip and follow-through, can also help reduce wrist injuries.
- Shoulder Strains and Rotator Cuff Issues: The repetitive overhead motions involved in serving, smashing, and hitting shots can strain the shoulders and lead to rotator cuff problems. Players should focus on strengthening the shoulder muscles through targeted exercises to prevent such injuries. Warming up before play, maintaining good form, and utilizing proper shoulder rotation techniques can also reduce the risk of strains and promote shoulder stability. These preventive measures can help alleviate the burden on medical costs associated with shoulder-related pickleball injuries.
- Knee Injuries, Including Tendonitis: Pickleball's frequent changes in direction and pivoting movements can place stress on the knees, increasing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis or knee sprains. Players should consider wearing knee pads or supportive braces to provide stability and protection. Strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings through targeted exercises is essential for knee injury prevention. Additionally, maintaining proper body alignment during movements and avoiding sudden, jerky motions can reduce the strain on the knees and subsequently lower medical costs related to knee injuries.
- Back Pain and Muscle Strains: The repetitive bending, twisting, and sudden movements involved in pickleball can contribute to back pain and muscle strains. Core strengthening exercises are pivotal in preventing these injuries, as they provide stability and support to the back. Regular stretching routines before and after play, incorporating adequate rest days into one's pickleball schedule, and employing proper body mechanics during shots are crucial steps to reduce the risk of back pain and muscle strains. By adopting these preventive measures, individuals can minimize their reliance on medical interventions and the associated costs.
- Tennis Elbow: Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury among pickleball players. The repetitive motions involved in gripping and swinging the paddle can lead to inflammation and pain in the tendons on the outer part of the elbow. To prevent tennis elbow, players should focus on strengthening the forearm muscles through specific exercises and implementing proper techniques, such as using a relaxed grip and maintaining good form during shots. Additionally, taking regular breaks, using an elbow brace for support, and avoiding excessive strain on the elbow can help mitigate this injury.
The growing popularity of Pickleball has brought a concerning rise in related injuries. Players need to prioritize injury prevention by employing the recommended protective measures, practicing proper technique, and maintaining overall physical fitness. When the seventy five year old body wants to move like a 25 year old out, injuries are bound to happen!