As the sport of Pickleball continues to rise in popularity, more patients in the area are coming into our Powder Springs podiatry practice with a pickleball injury. Why is that the case? As millions of people try to play this paddle sport, regardless of their current fitness levels, many are physically unprepared for the challenge and wind up in pain. Want to get in the kitchen without limping off the court in pain? Stick with us as Dr. Alvin Cowans explains the best way to protect yourself from injury while enjoying a brand new sport. But first, let's get a quick refresher on the nature of Pickleball, to help explain why it presents unique challenges to our foot and ankle health.

Understanding Pickleball

Invented in 1965 by former Washington state congressman Joel Pritchard, pickleball is rumored to have come to life when the politician tried to play badminton with ping pong paddles and a net at tennis heights. But how did the game earn its colorful name? Rumors abound, with some saying it's named for Pritchard's dog, Pickles, while the congressman's wife claims the blend of sports reminded her of excess crew oarsman heading riding in a pickle boat. But, while the true origins may remain shrouded in mystery, one thing is clear: Pickleball is in it's golden age. And, if you want to play the game, you'll have to take measures to protect yourself from a Pickleball injury.

Why Do So Many Players Get a Pickleball Injury? pickleball player from the waist down

According to records from UnitedHealth Group and UBS, there has been a sharp rise in Americans' use of healthcare benefits (to the tune of $377 million) due in large part to rising pickleball injuries. So, what is it about this sport, specifically, that's leaving people injured at a far faster pace than we've seen with games like tennis, squash or even running?

Here's the story: the number of U.S. Pickleball players is growing exponentially, by more than 12% each year in recent times. And, with so many new players comes many new injuries. (After all, you're more likely to sustain a sports injury when you're new to a sport, as your body first adjusts to a new form of movement.) But that fact alone does not tell the whole story.

Another element increasing players' risk for sustaining a Pickleball injury? A large majority of Pickleball players are over the age of 55. And since, as you get older, your body loses some of it's natural cushioning, the impact of a new, active sport increases players' risk for problems. Add in underlying conditions such as arthritis, and you can begin to understand why many players are putting down their paddles in pain.

Finally, older adults are often retired. And they find daily Pickleball matches keep them active and socially engaged. However, engagin in the same sport, day after day, greatly increases your risk for overuse injuries affecting your Achilles tendon, plantar fascia and more.

What is the Most Common Pickleball Injury?

Ttendinitis (tendon inflammation) is a common problem for Pickleball players. Many experience Achilles tendon pain, likely because they keep playing through early warning signs like tightness or pain in the calf muscles. As such, they're also more likely to experience a rupture of the Achilles tendon, an injury that usually requires surgical repair. Plus, due to the constant strain on your calf and foot muscles, many players also develop plantar fasciitis.

Another common Pickleball injury we see is an ankle sprain. Sustained when the ankle rolls or gets stretched too far out of its natural range of motion, this injury is common when players make quick directional changes without proper footwear. Finally, as with many court-sports, players also run the risk of knee, elbow or back pain. Luckily, with proper care, we can prevent many Pickleball injuries. Or, with early intervention, we can keep a small problem from becoming a major concern that sidelines you from the game for weeks or months.

Focusing on Prevention

One of the best ways to prevent a Pickleball injury is to invest in sport-specific footwear. But if you're not quite ready to splurge on Pickleball shoes, look for pairs with stiff frames for added stability. Cushioinng will also be important, particularly if you're an older player. Always choose pairs with plenty of traction on the soles to prevent slips and falls. And be sure to build rest days when scheduling your weekly matches, in order to give your body time to recover from the impact of athletic play.

Of course, even with the greatest of care, you may experience the pain of a pickleball injury. If that happens, here's what you need to do. Stop playing right away, and come into the office for immediate care.

Find Your Sports Podiatrist in Powder Springs, GA

Playing sports is good for our bodies and our minds...but from tennis to basketball and, now more than ever, Pickleball, intensely played games can leave you with an injury. And, if that happens? You need to seek immediate care from your sports podiatrist in Powder Spring's Lost Mountain neighborhood.

Why should you never play through the pain? Discomfort is a sign that trouble is brewing. You may have already sustained minor damage to a muscle or tendon once you start to notice discomfort. So, if you immediately rest and seek medical attention, your recovery should be simple and speedy. But if you keep pushing your body, you could exacerbate the injury, extending your healing time and increasing the odds that you'll need invasive treatments such as surgery.

Want to get back in the game as soon as possible? Never ignore a possible pickleball injury. Instead, as soon as you experience pain, rest for a day or two, applying ice to the affected area in order to reduce inflammation. Then, if the pain hasn't resolved, click here and request an appointment in the office. When you come in for your visit, Dr. Cowans can assess your injury and provide a treatment plan that will help you recover and get back on the court as soon as it's safely possible to do so.