Are you a “pickler” – one of the 4.8 million* pickleball
enthusiasts in the U.S.? According to the USA Pickleball Association,
half of all regular players who hit the courts eight or more times per
year are 55 and older. Though the sport is gaining a multi-generational
following, it is especially popular among older adults and others trying
to get back in shape.
America’s fastest growing sport is popular in our communities, too, says
Beau Sasser, MD, board-certified orthopaedic surgeon at
Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery and medical director of the
Southeast Georgia Health System Sports Medicine Program. “It’s an easy sport to get into, but more demanding than
people think. It is played on a smaller, harder court than tennis and
requires a lot of small, side to side motion,” explains Sasser.
For these reasons, Sasser is seeing more patients with pickleball injuries.
He adds, “Most pickleball injuries are lower extremity sprains and
strains in the ankles, quadriceps, knees and Achilles tendons.”
Playing Safe and Pain-free
As with any sport, it’s wise to warm up before play. If you are
not already active, start slow and pace yourself. “You can play
several pickleball games in one day, but once fatigue and dehydration
set in, footwork gets sloppy, and people get hurt. Stay hydrated and take
a break when you’re tired,” Sasser says. Poor footwork can
lead to knee and ankle injuries. “The quick turns required in pickleball
can twist the knee. Wearing a knee or ankle compression sleeve helps.
A sleeve stabilizes the joint and keeps it warmer and less stiff.”
Many players also overlook a key safety factor: proper footwear. “A
lot of people play in basic running shoes. A hard-court shoe is more rigid
and provides better ankle support which decreases the risk of injuries.”
If you have a weak joint, have it evaluated by an orthopaedic physician
before jumping on the pickleball bandwagon. Sasser also suggests applying
ice after play and taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like
ibuprofen or Tylenol afterwards.
Anything that gets Americans off the couch and active is a great trend.
Remember Sasser’s advice, and you, too, can become a healthy, happy
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sasser, call
Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery at 912-466-7340.