A woman and man play a game of pickleball.

The Pickleball Craze: Serving Up Fun, Fitness, and Injuries on the Court

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know has caught the pickleball bug. Pickleball, a paddle sport and a perfect hybrid of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, is the fastest growing sport in the United States! In fact, with the emergence of Major League Pickleball, this beloved sport is now enjoyed by professional and casual players alike.

By the end of 2023, pickleball will likely have more than 22 million players – according to analysts from UBS, a global investment firm. However, it’s also estimated that pickleball will be responsible for a whopping $377 million in healthcare costs by the end of this year. Despite the fun and camaraderie that pickleball provides, with its sudden increase in popularity with players of all ages and activity levels, there has unfortunately also been a growing number of pickleball-related injuries.

Most Common Pickleball Injuries

The injuries commonly seen in pickleball are similar to what you’d see in other sports played on a court, such as tennis. These include:

  • Shoulder injuries
  • Lower-back strains
  • Muscular strains
  • Ankle sprains
  • Rotator cuff injuries

Sprains, strains, and fractures reportedly account for 60% of all pickleball-related injuries. Due to repetitive overhead motion while playing, rotator cuff injuries are also common. But alas, pickleball is just too fun to give up so we’ve gathered some tips to help you safely play on!

What to Know Before You Play

There are some steps you can take to help avoid injury even before picking up your pickleball racket. These can help ensure your safety, while also keeping you from missing out on America’s fastest growing sport.

  • Start out slow: If you’ve been inactive for a while, it’s crucial for you to begin your journey to the pickleball court by prepping your body with low-impact activities. Pickleball isn’t going away anytime soon so be sure to start slowly and build up the intensity with each session. You can also start out by taking pickleball lessons, so you can ensure your form is just right.
  • Get the appropriate equipment: While pickleball is beloved by many for its convenience and low entry costs, it’s worth it to invest in the right shoes and paddle. Find a paddle that’s the right size for you and consider picking up a pair of sneakers designed specifically for tennis or pickleball.
  • Stretch before each match: Always be sure to take a few moments to stretch out! Simple exercises like high knees will warm up your body and increase circulation so you’re ready to play.
  • Be mindful of who you play with: Some pickleball players are more competitive than others. If you’re playing for the first time, try to find an opponent or teammate who can match your energy without pushing you to overdo it.

Suffering from a shoulder-related pickleball injury? Check out Anika’s shoulder solutions here or use our Find a Doctor tool to talk with an expert about our products.

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