Pickellball is exploding right now in popularity, and with it we are seeing an increase in injuries.
In this week’s episode, we talk about some of the more common injuries and some things we can focus on to minimize them.
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#AskMikeReinold Episode 316: Minimizing Pickleball Injuries
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So Trent from Minnesota asks, “I’m seeing a lot more pickleball related injuries and wondering if you and the Champion team have thoughts on a proper warmup and/or prevention strategies?”
That’s awesome. Pickleball is hot, right? Is this the fastest growing sport?
I love when people say “fastest growing sport.” That just means nobody played it last year. So percentage-wise it statistically went up, but that’s really not that much of a brag, right? The fastest growing sport. But I don’t know, how many people on this podcast have played pickleball? Be honest. All right, students, what do we got? That’s about half of us played pickleball. Tom G was a little late to vote for some reason. I think he was hesitant to express his playing pickleball.
It’s a great sport and I can see it. I’ve played it. I’ve played with people with a variety of different age groups, you can figure out what I’m saying there. And wow, it’s a very equitable sport where everyone can just jump in and start playing. It’s a pretty neat sport. So I think it’s going to get more and more popular as recreation.
And you’re starting to see these leagues, we’re starting to see top golf versions of pickleball being built in Arizona and Florida where you just have a sea of pickleball courts with bars, which makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t you? So I think this is pretty cool that we’re talking about pickleball.
So now Trent said he’s seeing a bunch of injuries and I would say a lot of people that play pickleball probably just pick up and start playing. So what can we do to minimize some of these injuries? I think that’s a really good question. I would say the majority of people don’t warm up. The majority of people don’t prepare their bodies to play this game today. I don’t know.
Why don’t we start from Jonah’s perspective? So Jonah, you’re the strength and conditioning coach with us here. Proper warmup for activities is probably a cornerstone of what you do. What would you say to the recreational athlete that started pickleball? What are some things that they should do to get ready to play?
Yeah, I think in terms of the day that you’re playing, getting your heart rate up, getting moving first, and taking yourself through some just dynamic stretches. I’m sure in pickleball when you’re changing direction and stuff, especially if you’re not normally super active, you’re going into all sorts of positions and stuff you never normally would. So doing lateral lunges and things like that before just to get your body moving in different directions would be huge.
The other big one, probably, is if you only play once a week, doing something in between those days. I’ll let someone else cover what that might be. But anytime you have that once a week activity, I think you’re a little more likely to feel those after effects.
I’m glad you said that because I was going to try to probe for that a little bit here. That sometimes it’s what you do in between to prepare for that. And I think that’s a pretty neat way of saying it. So who wants to jump in and start trying to tackle this one? Dan, what do you think? You seem to be a big pickleball fan.
Yeah, I played 20-something years ago. I actually made my own pickleball paddles. I liked it so much.
Wait, you invented pickleball? Because I don’t think it’s that old.
I was the original inventor.
Yeah, your dog was named Pickle. Isn’t that the story? But anyway…
Yes, I threw a ball. Sport’s invented.
Sports like these scare me for the average person because if you think about pickleball, in my mind it’s combination of tennis and ping pong. It’s not as explosive as something like tennis, but there are a lot of fast movements. You have to move quickly. It’s kind of like my friends will go and they’ll go play pick-up football or something after having not run for 15 or 20 years. I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re just asking to tear your hamstring.”
And tip me on pickleball. I’m not trying to tell people they shouldn’t exercise, it’s my entire business. But I do think that people have to realize that something like pickleball is a lot of fast movements, very agile. I got to imagine the patient population’s all over the place. Kevin was talking to me, he’ll probably talk about this in a minute, but a lot of falls in pickleball from folks trying to move quickly.
So I think a huge component of this is like you have to be fast, you have to move quickly. We probably need to have, to Jonah’s point earlier, some sort of program leading up to this that has some sort of, maybe, ladder drills or some sort of shuffling drills or running drills or something that just gets your lower body prepared for moving very quickly, repeatedly, for however long the game or match is going to be.
That’s perfect. And you’d actually be surprised at how people are very cement-shoed in this sport where you just kind of stay in place. But those are the people that we beat. Those are the people that don’t win that round.
I think that’s excellent, Dan. And I think that’s the right approach that we probably need to talk about here. It’s not that warmup. It’s about, you’re starting a new sport, you need to work on this. Especially as you get older, what do we lose? Strength and power. And then all of a sudden strength, power and you’re challenging your balance in all these awkward positions, you’re setting yourself up for some interesting situations.
So Kevin, what do you think? What would you build for a program for these people?
So I just want to say quickly, I was looking up some studies just trying to find common injuries in pickleball yesterday. And there’s no new data really since the pandemic. But that’s what I was talking to Dan about – I found a study. So I was looking at the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. So it was between 2001 and 2017, and they found a total of, they’re estimating about 20,000 pickleball injuries in that period of time. And something crazy, 30% of those were fractures and 30% of those were sprains or strains. So I think to Dan’s point, it said 88% of the injured population was over the age of 55.
So I think since the pandemic, it’s gotten more popular in kind of everyone. But I think we’re seeing a lot of older people playing this. And like you just said, Mike, we’re seeing as we age a loss in strength and power. So I think it’s kind of a thing that we talk about all the time, is you got to be prepared for the demands of your sport. So if there was some type of program where, like Jonah said, they’re doing some dynamic warmup stuff day of, and then other days we’re training what the sport demands. So kind of a full body strengthening program with probably a little bit of emphasis on agility stuff. And I think that will help the person be in the best position possible on game day.
Yeah, I like it. Lenn, you have some jazz hands.
I get jazz hands because, I’m going to admit it. I’ve never played pickleball. I don’t know anything about pickleball. So what are the demands of pickleball? It sounds like you can literally just stand in a box and just wave a pope racquet. I think we call it a pope racquet.
Like I said, you can.
It’s probably the most offensive way to describe pickleball.
You can, but you’re not going to win. It’s not going to go well if…
If 70 year olds are doing it, if older people are doing it, aren’t they just standing in place? Injuries are going to happen. Trust me, they’re going to fall, they’re going to lose their balance, humeral fractures and Achilles ruptures and all that. But I guess if you’re serious, people, younger, thirties, forties, who are really doing it, it’s one on one, you’re literally running and cutting and doing stuff like that with pickleball. I’ve literally never seen a pickleball match. I don’t know anything about it.
Good recovery there.
I hate the name too. Can we rename it?
Good recovery there. Good recovery, Lenn. I literally was thinking to myself, is this the first episode we delete and never actually publish? Is this the first? This has been the worst episode of all.
And then he offends pickleball, older people, all in one sentence.
If anybody reviews our podcast based on this episode, I urge you to watch the other 320 episodes to get a good baseline of what we have to offer here. Because I don’t think this is our best. I don’t think this is our best showing here.
I’ll jump in and answer a little bit of that, Lenn, but I think that’s very equitable about the age demographics of pickleball, is that you could be as mobile as you need to be, but you’re not going to cover as much ground. So the court’s a lot smaller. So just like anything else, that means it opens it up to people with less mobility. So I think that’s why it’s such a great sport.
But I think just getting everybody back on track, Kevin’s statistics I think tells us everything. So it’s an older population. Just because it’s an older population sport, that might change. But what we’re finding here is a lot of falls, like Dan mentioned. There’s the number one injury appears to be related to falls.
So we got loss of strength, loss of power, loss of balance as we get older, and everybody wants to try to do a prevention strategy that’s specific for pickleball. It just sounds like to me, you need to get on just a solid generic program. Actually, any vanilla program would probably be amazing for these people just to get a little strength, get a little power, a little balance, and coordination back before you play. And that would probably do wonders.
And just like everything else, we slant this to them as this is a performance enhancement program and they’re going to be the best pickleballers in the world. Is that an appropriate way to say it? So I feel like Lenny’s Googling pickleball right now.
My 2023 goal is to play pickleball. My wife works at Lifetime Fitness, and they just got rid of their basketball courts to create pickleball courts, so we have access. I’m going to learn it.
So there’s no basketball court? Anyway, great question, Trent. I appreciate it. I feel like we really nailed that one there. But I think to summarize, which we could have done in the first 10 seconds, which is great, is that it’s not necessarily that they need a specific prevention program, but they need something though. And it’s one of those things where you’re going to challenge things of your physical capabilities as you get older, a little bit more in this than you probably normally would’ve. So getting them on a nice generic program a couple other times of the week in addition to pickleball will probably do wonders, right?
But I think Kevin had the best lesson of all of us here, prepare yourself by looking into the sport, unlike Lenny, and trying to determine what the stresses are of the sport. So that way you can relate to your person and build an appropriate program. I think that’s the best way to do it.
So Trent, great question, team, great stuff. I think we nailed it this episode.
If you have a question like that, or maybe if you don’t have a question like that, just head to mikereinold.com, click on that podcast link. We’ll see you in the next episode.