There has been a lot of press lately regarding injuries on the pickleball court. The increase in injuries can largely be attributed to the explosion in popularity of the sport—in other words, more people are playing pickleball, so, naturally, there will be more injuries. With that said, studies show there are a variety of risk factors that can affect the chances of being injured on the pickleball court, which include age, gender, technique, equipment, lack of warm-up and stretching, previous injuries, excessive use, and court surface. Of these risk factors, there are two that stand out in things you can control to help you to prevent an injury on the pickleball court—(1) warm up and stretch, and (2) moderate play (i.e., avoid excessive use—which is admittedly difficult for many pickleball players).
First, it may be common sense, but the lack of warming up and stretching in pickleball can increase the risk of injury. Studies have shown that inadequate warm-up contributes to issues like shoulder and knee pain. Warming up and static stretching have been found to enhance muscle flexibility and range of motion, which are essential for injury prevention. Regular stretching also aids in balance improvement, reducing falls and injuries, particularly in the older population (which can be critical on the pickleball court). To summarize, it is vital to engage in pickleball-specific warm-up and stretching routines (which, to note, many pickleball players fail to do).
Second, overuse and fatigue are common injury risk factors, leading to issues like stress fractures, musculoskeletal stress injuries, and muscle fatigue. Adequate rest and recovery are crucial to prevent overuse injuries on the pickleball court. Identifying where the line is for excessive use can be difficult for pickleball players, as they just love to play. However, be conscious of your body and stop or take a rest when your body wears.
In conclusion, pickleball players should prioritize warming up, stretching, and managing overuse to lower injury risks on the court. These are two risk factors that pickleball players have complete control over, so try to manage these factors to lower your risk of injury and have more time on the pickleball court for years to come.