Kirstin Weible, PT, ScD, COMT
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. In fact, 4.8 million people were playing last year. The sport has been around for 50 years, but the pandemic saw a soaring increase in popularity. In 2021, the average age of US pickleball players was 38, down from 2020 when the average age was 41. The courts are smaller than those played in tennis, and the sport is always played as doubles. This makes pickleball a more tangible recreational activity to the aging population who may have a history of surgeries or mobility limitations. Multiple research articles have been published on the mental and social benefits of playing the sport amongst retired people, especially those newly retired, and the inverse relationship it has with depression in older adults. In other words, it can be really good for you to get out there and play!
As a physical therapy clinic and professionals concentrated on the physical well-being of people, we love to hear that so many people are out being active in the pickleball world. In fact, physical therapy is completely centered around this idea of a “movement system” that we need to keep running smoothly. Staying active is a huge part of that. However, we are seeing an influx of pickleball injuries accompanying these rise in participant numbers. Common injuries include lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), hip bursitis, rotator cuff tendinitis/tears, and occasional wrist fractures from falls. Getting people with injuries back onto the court at full speed is something we take great pride in. We can do so most easily when people come to see us early after an injury.
Obviously, the best approach would be to prevent the injury from occurring in the first place. Injury-prevention measures can be extremely effective as well when deficits are identified before an injury even occurs such as shoulder, hip, or wrist weakness, or difficulty with balance or lateral movements. We can then design a simple home program to address these deficits and keep the player on the court without interruption. Cick the link above to access a warm-up video. This is a good routine for most pickle ball players to warm your body up before you play. If you are having pain or would like a more specific program designed just for you, give us a call to schedule your evaluation with one of our therapists!