Common Injuries In America’s Fastest Growing Sport, Pickleball!

Pickleball; a fun sport that combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong has been the fastest growing sport in the United States since 2019 and has no signs of slowing down. If you consider yourself a new “pickler”, you may have noticed your playing partners dropping off due to injuries. This fast rising sport has drawn players of all ages and athletic backgrounds, many of which may not have played similar racquet sports prior, potentially pre-disposing them to sports injuries.


Injuries commonly associated with pickeball:


Acute injuries:

Soft tissue injuries such as a knee/ankle sprain: Pickleball is a fast moving, dynamic sport that has unpredictable movements. If you are changing direction quickly but with poor balance, it may cause the knee or ankle to twist and a soft tissue injury may ensue. Ouch!


Muscle strain: If you are not used to lunging or going for a ball in quick reactive motions, you may end up straining your muscles, leading to a hamstring strain or your low back may seize up.


Falling injuries:

Wrist sprain: you may trip or hit a ball in a weird angle, and cause a wrist injury.


Chronic injuries:

Achilles tendonitis: with rapid increase in activities, overuse injuries can occur in the Achilles and may cause significant heel pain and foot pain.


Tennis elbow: Pickleball requires rapid flicking movement in the arm and wrist. This can result in tennis elbow, pain over the outside elbow that can extend into the forearm.


Rotator cuff injuries: supportive, stabilizing muscles of the shoulder can be injured with repetitive stress, very common with Pickleball since swinging a racquet requires a lot of force through the shoulders.



So if you are new to Pickleball, re-entering the world of exercise and sports, or feeling out of shape. Here are a few tips to avoid injuries:


  1. Move Regularly: The best thing you can do is find ways to move your muscles. The more your body is used to moving, the less stress your Pickleball game will cause on the body. This could be anything- weight lifting, yoga, pilates, walking.
  2. Eating and Hydrating Properly: Eating a healthy diet and hydrating properly helps prepare the body to withstand the stress of the sport and allows you to perform at your best
  3. Proper Warm Up and Cool Down: getting your soft tissue and muscles warm can prepare them to operate at maximum ability and also prevent tissue from tearing.
  4. Regular Acupuncture: getting acupuncture regularly can help offset the inflammation and mild tissue damage accumulated from the stress of the sport.


Don’t wait to get treatment! While some pain and injuries heal on their own, this can take a long time and may result in future injuries if your body doesn’t heal correctly. Next thing you know you’re watching your friends play and you are sitting on the sidelines. It’s always better to get your injuries properly assessed and treated before it turns into a bigger issue.

Dr. David Chang ND, LAc David Chang, ND, LAc, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist with extensive training in Naturopathic primary care and classical Chinese medicine. With more than six years of professional experience and a strong interest in chronic pain management, he is proud to own and operate his practice in Portland, Oregon.

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