Pickleball injuries are on the upswing: Who’s most at risk?

A recent study reveals a significant increase in pickleball-related fractures over the past 20 years, with older adults being particularly vulnerable. Researchers from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (2002-2022) and found:

  • A staggering 90-fold increase in fractures related to pickleball over the 20 years
  • Fractures associated with pickleball doubled from 2020 onward.
  • Women aged 65 and older are most susceptible to upper extremity fractures, often resulting from falls.
  • Men are 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized for a fracture than women.

As the popularity of pickleball continues to grow, it’s essential for players, especially older adults, to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries and fractures.

According to Dr. Kurt P. Spindler, an orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Florida, “Pickleball, despite its reputation as a low-impact sport, can pose significant risks for players, especially those with weaker bones due to osteoporosis.” To minimize the risk of injury, Dr. Spindler advises:

  • Understanding your individual risk profile
  • Consulting with your physician to discuss ways to lower your risk
  • Building bone mass through:

Noe Sariban, a doctor of physical therapy in sports and orthopedics and a certified pickleball teaching pro, and Tony Malia, a former sports instructor who taught pickleball at the Warrenville (IL) Park District, share their expertise to help you play safely:

  • Warm up and stretch: Before playing, warm up and stretch to prepare your body and improve your range of motion.
  • Choose proper footwear: Select appropriate footwear to reduce your risk of falls.
  • Avoid backpedaling: If a ball is lobbed over your head, turn to sidestep or run in the ball’s direction instead of backpedaling.
  • Call “Ball!”: If another ball enters your court, shout “Ball!” and stop play to avoid collisions and confusion.

Seven Common Pickleball Injuries And How To Prevent Them

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