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Health Spotlight: Pickleball isn’t just for seniors

Health Spotlight: Pickleball isn’t just for seniors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If tennis and racquetball married, their first-born would be pickleball. Pickleball play has grown so much recently, that the hardest part of the game now is finding an empty court, and it’s not just for grandparents. Pickleball play has increased 158% in the U.S., according to what’s called ‘picklehead statistics,’ but for those 40 million players, the odds of being injured also skyrocket. News 8 visited the Annapolis pickleball club and talked to one player who has spent months healing from a severe knee injury.

“it’s a short paddle. It’s not a string game, and it’s with a plastic ball as opposed to a core rubber ball,” said Bob Friend, a pickleball player.

Anyone can play pickleball, but 90% of injuries occur in those over 50 years of age.

“I’ve had two injuries playing pickleball,” said Friend. “The last one that I had, which was my patella tendon tear in my left knee, was playing in a tournament.”

“One of the common misconceptions about pickleball is that it’s less injury provoking than other sports,” said Dr. John-Paul Rue, an orthopedist with the Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon Mercy Medical Center. “In most of the injuries that we see occur in the lower extremity, in the knees, and the ankles. They’re usually from a sudden lunging, jumping, twisting type of maneuver.”

Bob’s patella injury to his knee was intense.

“He did a sudden lunge, and what happened was his quadriceps, his thigh muscles, contracted suddenly, and actually ripped the tendon from off of the bone, just below the kneecap,” said Dr. Rue.

“The first four to six weeks, you’re pretty immobile. Then, you start to gain confidence, and the brace starts to come off, because you sleep with a brace for the first five weeks.”

How can you keep pickleball fun but safe from strains, sprains, and dislocations? Dr. Rue says warm up, know your limitations, and stretch before and after playing.

Dr. Rue says it will take Bob two to three years to get back to his “full, explosive, competitive level.” He reminds players that fractures are common, especially for low bone density in later years. He advises to perhaps play a little slower than you think you need to and you’ll play a lot longer.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.