Pickleball and Chiropractic

Pickleball, a sport that has recently surged in popularity worldwide, has evolved from a niche backyard game in suburban America into a rapidly growing sensation embraced by individuals of all ages and skill levels. Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, pickleball offers a distinctive and easily accessible experience for various players. The sport’s simplicity has played a pivotal role in its ascent to popularity. However, as the number of pickleball enthusiasts continues to grow, there is a concerning increase in reported injuries among players, challenging the once-perceived, low-impact nature of the sport and causing various physical ailments and accidents.

Common Injuries in Pickleball

The most prevalent injuries among pickleball players include sprains, strains, tennis elbow, rotator cuff, and ankle injuries. These can occur due to overexertion, sudden movements, repetitive motions, lack of proper warm-up, water on the court, and collisions with other players or objects.

Causes and contributing factors of these injuries in pickleball include improper technique, inadequate conditioning, lack of flexibility, playing beyond one’s physical limits, and using inappropriate equipment. 

What’s the difference between pickleball and tennis injuries?

In recent years, there has been a rise in pickleball-related injuries. These injuries share similarities with those from other racquet sports but exhibit distinct characteristics, such as a growing trend in popularity and older patient age. Older unskilled players require unique injury prevention and management strategies. 

The Journal of Emergency Medicine published an analysis in 2019 that approximated 19,000 pickleball injuries in 2017. Ninety percent of these injuries affected people over 50, with 50.4% male.

Chiropractors can play a role in helping people prevent injuries associated with pickleball by providing the following services and guidance:

Musculoskeletal Assessment: Chiropractors can assess an individual’s musculoskeletal health to identify any existing imbalances, weaknesses, or alignment issues that might make them more susceptible to injuries during pickleball. This assessment can help create a personalized injury prevention plan.

Joint Mobility: Chiropractors can help improve joint mobility, particularly in areas prone to injury in pickleball, such as the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. This increased mobility can enhance flexibility and reduce the chances of injury. 

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Chiropractors can prescribe specific stretching and strengthening exercises tailored to the individual’s needs. These exercises can target muscle groups used in pickleball, enhancing strength and flexibility, which can prevent injuries.

Education: Chiropractors can educate pickleball players about proper warm-up and cool-down routines, emphasizing the importance of dynamic stretching and injury prevention strategies. They can also guide equipment selection and proper technique to minimize injury risk.

Nutritional Guidance: Chiropractors can provide nutritional advice to promote healthy joints, muscles, and overall well-being, indirectly preventing injury.

Steps to Prevent Pickleball Injuries

Regarding pickleball, staying injury-free is crucial for long-term enjoyment of the sport. You can significantly reduce the risk of pickleball injuries by implementing effective prevention strategies. This includes incorporating warm-up exercises, stretching routines, and strength conditioning exercises to prepare your body for the game and improve overall fitness. Additionally, staying informed through injury prevention programs and seeking professional guidance is essential. Chiropractors can help assess and enhance your musculoskeletal health, providing a safer and more enjoyable pickleball experience.

Recent Research

Pickleball Injuries Soaring In The United States

“They estimate in a report that injuries related to pickleball could cost Americans between $250 million and $500 million in medical costs this year, mostly related to wrist and leg sprains and fractures. Over roughly the last three years, the number of recreational players around the U.S. has soared 159%, from 3.5 million in 2019 to 8.9 million in 2022, according to Sports and Fitness Industry Association data. UBS estimates that $377 million worth of medical costs in 2023 will stem from pickleball. Roughly 80% — or $302 million — of the total relates to outpatient treatment in settings such as emergency rooms and doctor’s offices”

Cerullo M. Pickleball injuries could cost Americans up to $500 million this year, analysis finds. CBS News Moneywatch. June 27, 2023.

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