Person holding injury on leg

Pickleball Injuries Spark Conversation on Workouts in the Workplace

Pickleball: The Game That’s Kind of a Big Dill

Pickleball has taken the country by storm, growing from 3.5 million players in 2019, to 8.9 million players in 2022. However, the increase in popularity has accompanied an increase in injuries and complicated workplace exercise routines, especially for organizations with staff in physically demanding roles.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the sport, Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong on a court with a perforated ball and a flat paddle. Players, known as “Picklers,” have engaged in the sport since the 1960s, which grew in popularity during the pandemic when people sought more outdoors activities. What Is Pickleball? A Complete Guide – Forbes Health

While sports commonly come with the risk of injury, the majority of pickleball players are over the age of 50, increasing that risk exponentially. In fact, according to a 2020 study, 90.9% of injuries were from patients 50 years or older, with a near-even split between male and female players. In 74.3% of the cases, the injury happened at a sports or recreational facility.

The most common injuries were strain or sprain at 28.7% and fracture at 27.7%. These injuries occurred most often on the wrist, leg or shoulder — commonly referred to as musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries. MSK injuries are consistently in the top five injury categories for employers, typically ranking either 2nd or 3rd as it relates to total claims filed. (Is pickleball the latest threat to HR? Employers, the ball is in your court – Sedgwick)

Injury Prevention Best Practices

Organizations with staff that have physically demanding jobs, such as firefighters, EMTs, water and sanitation field workers, and park and recreation employees should engage in prescribed workouts to help limit injury. Since employees in these types of positions need to remain physically fit, it’s important to provide ample opportunities for exercise while adhering to their safety while working out. Organizations with prescribed workouts should have a policy in place to help limit their workplace injuries.

Some great low-risk and low-impact workouts include walking, cycling, elliptical training, resistance training, swimming, and yoga. Low-impact exercise refers to any activity that doesn’t place a lot of strain or weight through the joints. When running or jumping, it puts stress on our joints and bones, which isn’t always a bad thing, as it tells your bones to lay down newer and stronger tissue. However, it can also damage muscles, joints, and connective tissues if they’re not strong enough to handle it.
(Low-Impact Workouts: What They Are, Health Benefits, and Getting Started (everydayhealth.com))

For physical jobs that require workers to constantly use their muscles and be in good shape, nothing is scarier than an injury that can prevent you from working. Whether it’s pickleball, basketball, or weightlifting, it’s necessary to take the proper precautions to reduce the risk of injuries and strains. Here are some tips to be safe while getting your exercise:

  • Warm Up Properly: Always start with a warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise. This can include light cardio and dynamic stretching.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink water before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration. The amount depends on the intensity and duration of your exercise.
  • Use Proper Form: Maintain good form during exercises to avoid injuries. If you’re unsure, consider working with a fitness professional or using instructional videos.
  • Gradual Progression: Increase the intensity or duration of your workouts gradually. Sudden spikes can lead to injuries or burnout.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any pain, discomfort, or unusual feelings during exercise. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and seek advice if needed.
  • Include Rest Days: Your body needs time to recover. Incorporate rest days into your routine to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Wear Appropriate Gear: Use proper footwear and clothing suitable for your type of exercise to enhance comfort and reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Cross-Train: Mix up your workouts to avoid overuse of specific muscles and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

While it’s impossible to reduce the risk of an exercise-related injury to zero, sticking to these tips can provide a good foundation. Organizations can also consider hiring a professional trainer as an injury prevention best practice.

For members of the CSD Pool, this cost is eligible for reimbursement as a part of our Safety and Loss Prevention Grant program. Beyond this, members also have access to free ergonomic assessments which can help minimize the risk of injuries on the job, allowing staff to maximize off-duty pickleball activities.

Above all, safety is paramount, and finding a balance that suits both fitness level and operational duties is key to a sustainable and injury-free exercise routine.

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