How to Avoid Common Pickleball Injuries

10/03/2023 | 3 min. read

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Pickleball is a fun new sport that a lot of older adults—and even younger adults and kids are playing. It’s a game similar to ping pong and badminton but it’s played with a wiffle ball. How dangerous could it possibly be?

Yet, as surprising as it may seem, it is possible to get hurt—even seriously injured—playing pickleball. Like any sport, pickleball demands some precautions to prevent pickleball injuries. Wear good running shoes, learn proper technique with the paddle, and take time to warm up before a game.

Common Pickleball Injuries

The most common pickleball injuries are mild: aching overused muscles, strains, and sprains. You can also get bruised in the sport. Falling during play can cause more serious injuries, including sprains or even fractures of wrists. If you have aching knees or have strained your wrist before playing pickleball, it is a good idea to wear a brace. You can buy good-quality braces at online retailers or you can ask your physician.

Not surprisingly, seniors are at greater risk of pickleball injuries than younger players. In fact, one report stated that of those injured in pickleball, 90% were older than 50 years of age.1 For that reason, older players should take plenty of time to warm up and cool down. When the weather is hot and humid, limit play and stay hydrated.

Among older pickleball players, injuries occur at nearly equal frequencies for both men and women, although the types of injuries they experience differ. For women, the most common form of pickleball injury is a fracture, often of the wrist. These can occur when a player holds the paddle incorrectly or if the wrist is fractured in an attempt to break a fall. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to pull a muscle. 2

How to Relieve Pickleball Aches and Pains

Minor muscle aches and pains after pickleball play are perfectly normal and can be relieved with ice packs and topical pain relievers after the game or during off times. One topical pain reliever, Instaflex Extra Strength Pain Relief Cream is highly effective for use on overused muscles of the calves, thighs, and arms. Not only does Instaflex soothe sore muscles and joints, but it also provides fast relief and absorbs rapidly through your skin for your toughest aches and pains, even arthritis!

Make Sure to Protect Your Eyes

An uncommon but potentially dangerous pickleball injury is damage to the eye. A wiffle ball or paddle to the eye can do some damage, so that’s why you see some serious pickleball players wearing protective goggles or eyewear and probably all players should too.

In Summary

So, the bottom line is this: Pickleball is a fantastic and inclusive sport enjoyed by people of all ages, from kids to older adults. It’s important to acknowledge that, like any physical activity, there are inherent risks. However, with proper precautions such as wearing suitable footwear, mastering paddle techniques, and taking time to warm up—and cool down, you can significantly reduce the chances of the more common pickleball injuries. Remember, most pickleball injuries are minor, and they can often be managed with simple remedies like ice packs and topical pain relievers. So, embrace the game, stay safe on the court, and enjoy the wonderful world of pickleball!

1 Forrester MB. Pickleball-Related Injuries. J Emerg Med. 2020;58(2):275-9.

2 Weiss H, Dougherty J, DiMaggio C. Non-fatal senior pickleball, 2010-2019. Injury epidemiology. 2021;8(1):34.

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Meet Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi is an internationally recognized expert in pain medicine who has spent much of his career studying what pain is, why it occurs, and how best to treat it. That experience has led him to believe strongly that there are often ways to relieve or manage pain which are overlooked or discounted, and that the most effective treatment approaches are always multi-modal.

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