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Discover the Dark Side of Pickleball: Are You at Risk?

Discover the Dark Side of Pickleball: Pickleball has swiftly transitioned from a niche pastime to a mainstream sensation, capturing the hearts of enthusiasts with its accessible gameplay and community spirit. This burgeoning popularity, however, comes with its own set of physical risks, often overlooked amidst the sport’s perceived ease and simplicity.

The Appeal and Accessibility of Pickleball

Initially embraced for its straightforward rules and compact court size, pickleball distinguishes itself from more demanding racket sports like tennis. “One of the most appealing parts of the sport is that it has a low barrier to entry,” notes enthusiasts who relish the opportunity to engage in spirited doubles matches on courts measuring a modest 20 by 44 feet.

The Hidden Dangers: Common Injuries in Pickleball

Despite its user-friendly nature, pickleball is not immune to injuries. Dr. James B. Chen, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, underscores the prevalence of overuse injuries among avid players. “Since pickleball is a sport that many people can play daily if they choose, picklers run the risk of injuries related to overuse of certain joints and muscles,” says Dr. Chen. These often manifest as sprained ankles, tennis elbow, and various forms of tendinitis affecting the knees, elbows, and shoulders.

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Mitigating Risk: Strategies for Injury Prevention

To sustain long-term enjoyment of pickleball, experts advocate for proactive injury prevention strategies. Dr. Hallie Zwibel advises players to prioritize flexibility through regular stretching routines targeting key muscle groups like shoulders, hips, and legs. “Regular stretching — particularly focusing on the shoulders, hips, and legs — can improve flexibility and reduce the risk of strains,” says Zwibel. Strength and conditioning exercises further fortify stability and endurance, crucial for reducing injury susceptibility during play.

Equipping Yourself for Safety: The Role of Proper Footwear

Selecting appropriate footwear emerges as a pivotal consideration in pickleball safety. “Choosing the right footwear is crucial for pickleball safety,” emphasizes Dr. Zwibel. Indoor play necessitates court shoes with robust lateral support and non-marking soles, optimizing grip and stability. For outdoor conditions, Dr. Zwibel recommends footwear with durable soles and enhanced traction to navigate varied surfaces effectively. “For indoor play, court shoes with good lateral support and a nonmarking sole are ideal to provide the grip and stability needed,” he advises.

Environmental Factors: Navigating Outdoor Challenges

Playing pickleball outdoors introduces additional considerations, notably combating the elements. Dr. Chen shows the risks associated with prolonged sun exposure, emphasizing the importance of sunscreen application, adequate hydration, and wearing protective clothing to mitigate heat-related illnesses. “Playing pickleball in the sun can increase the risk of dehydration, sunburn, and heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke,” warns Dr. Chen.

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News in Brief: Discover the Dark Side of Pickleball

While pickleball continues to captivate a diverse and growing community of enthusiasts, acknowledging and addressing potential injury risks remains paramount. By integrating prudent preparation, including proper stretching, strength training, and footwear selection, players can safeguard their well-being and prolong their active participation in this beloved sport. Remember, the joy of pickleball lies not only in its physical benefits but also in the camaraderie and sheer fun it offers. So, equip yourself wisely, stay mindful of potential hazards, and continue enjoying the exhilarating game of pickleball responsibly.

Our Reader’s Queries

Q. What is pickleball and why is it called that?

A. In the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum founded pickleball on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Shortly after, Joan Pritchard coined the name “pickleball,” inspired by the term used for the leftover players in crew races’ “pickle boat.”

Q. Why do people like pickleball?

A. Playing pickleball enhances balance, agility, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination with minimal impact on the body. It’s an excellent option for older players who previously enjoyed tennis but now face physical limitations like hip, shoulder, knee, or joint issues.

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