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Pickleball injuries on the rise: Here's how you can prevent one next time you're on the court

Posted at 9:36 AM, Jun 06, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Phillipa Mitchell-Smith tells me when she started playing pickleball, she dealt with injuries, but now with the proper preparation, she can enjoy the new pickleball courts at Jastro Park injury-free.

  • The Sports & Fitness Industry Association reports pickleball as the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row.
  • So the city of Bakersfield held the grand opening of 12 new pickleball courts, 1 tennis court, and a hand ball court at Jastro Park to meet that demand.
  • A study from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found a 90-fold increase in fractures for pickleball players, mostly impacting women ages 65+.

The new pickleball courts at Jastro Park have made getting into the sport easier for the millions Americans picking up a paddle, but like with any sport, there’s a risk for injuries, especially for older players
Retiree Phillipa Mitchell-Smith tells me she started slamming shots on the pickleball court in January.

“That’s what pickleball does," Mitchell-Smith said. "I didn’t know a lot of people within the Bakersfield area, but once I came on the court, it was a very friendly environment.”

Now that it’s tournament season, she says she practices twice a day for at least 5 days a week just like millions of picklers are doing the same.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association reports pickleball as the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row.

“Pickleball, 20 years ago wasn’t a thing as much as it is today. It’s important for us to really change with the times,” Andrae Gonzalez, the vice-mayor for the city of Bakersfield, said.

That’s more that 223% growth in three years.

So the city of Bakersfield held the grand opening of 12 new pickleball courts, 1 tennis court, and a hand ball court at Jastro Park to meet that demand.

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the nation, and what I love about it is not only is it for your toddlers, but as well as you an see a lot of seniors here,” Rick Anthony, the Recreation and Parks director for the city of Bakersfield, said.

But those seniors could be at a great risk for injury.

A study from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found a 90-fold increase in fractures for pickleball players, mostly impacting women ages 65+.

“When I started with pickleball, I started getting injuries right away,” Mitchell-Smith said.

She tells me she dealt with a sciatica back injury and re-injured herself after starting to play pickleball.

“After I got re-injured, I had to take about 8 weeks off, and then I came back into the sport doing the right things,” she added.

Mitchell-Smith says she learned from her coach Maddie Jayne what steps she needs to take to prepare for a game.

“That means bring your cold water, anything with electrolytes," Jayne said. "Drink that before, during, and after playing.”

In addition to hydrating, Jayne advises players eat healthy and stretch well before picking up a paddle.

“I’ve seen so many times people pull a hamstring, running for a ball,” she said.

Mitchell-Smith agrees now practicing healthy habits before she plays a game so she can enjoy the new courts at Jastro Park.

“You want to make sure, you’re a high performer for the partner that you’re working with,” Mitchell-Smith said.

If you’re trying to get into pickleball you can find more information on free classes offer by the City of Bakersfield here.


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