October 26, 2023 3 min read
INJURY PREVENTION (Not Just for Pickleball)
I grew up in the Seattle area and I can confirm that the stereotypes are accurate. There are a lot of gray, rainy days. So many, in fact, that most of our PE classes were held indoors on the basketball court. For this reason, we were limited in what types of activities we could do. This meant that we played a lot of basketball, dodgeball and net based games like volleyball, badminton and Pickleball (which I understand was invented not too far from where I grew up, by a future Congress member).
If you had asked me sometime in elementary school if I thought this game would someday become a popular sport, I would have laughed at you. I would have been dead wrong, as Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world right now, with a 152% increase in players between 2022 and 2023. Coming with that new found popularity are unforeseen consequences. Namely, injuries.
Pickleball related injuries are projected to cost $400 million dollars in 2023, and that is just in the US. Many of these injuries are fall related with things like broken bones and torn ligaments due to the impact. There is only so much that someone can do to prevent a broken bone from falling. However, there is a lot that can be done to prevent the strains, sprains, tears and overuse injuries that are becoming more and more common.
Let’s talk about strategies to mitigate injuries from playing as an adult (whether it’s Pickleball or some other game).
START WITH THE BASICS
If you aren’t already consistently engaged in resistance training, then you need to start. Not only does strength training make your muscles stronger and more resilient, it increases bone density, which helps prevent those bone breaks.
GETTING SPECIFICSpecific things to include (besides the tried and true lifting movements) are movements that emphasis shoulder health:
Finally, it is important to train explosive movements to train your body to get used to that type of movement. Not just to generate force, but to absorb safely:
This doesn’t quite fall under the definition of resistance training, but I’d encourage everyone to take a look at something like Tim Anderson’s Original Strength or sign up for some kind of tumbling class or Judo. Something that teaches you how to fall and move your body through space in a non-catastrophic way.
WARMING UP FOR PLAY
I’m sure we all remember being a kid. You could get up from sitting at your school desk for 3 hours and sprint out the door to recess to dominate kickball or red rover. No warm up needed, and generally, very few injuries of note. The joy of youth. Alas, that resiliency doesn’t stick with most of us.Warming up for play, whether it’s Pickleball or other game like Ultimate Frisbee, flag football, kickball, etc., is very important for the aged body. Getting your core temperature higher and blood moving to the muscles is the first step. Classic PE movements are great here:
This whole series will likely take you 5-10 minutes if you do all of the movements listed. If I’m honest, I hate warming up and I’m just as bad as anyone about doing it, even when I lift. It feels stupid and like a waste of time. However, I also know that my lifting, or playing, always feels better (faster, more explosive, less painful) when I do. And really, 10 minutes is a much lower cost than any surgery I’ve ever seen.
One of the most important parts of life is also one of the things we lose the fastest in our life – play. We all need to take every opportunity available to play, but we need to make sure it is done in a way that doesn’t ultimately hurt us. The best ways to mitigate this are:
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