Pickleball Perils: Striving to Stay in the Game

Call a meeting of any chiropractors’ group these days, and one sport is more likely to come up than any other: Pickleball.

Participation in pickleball, the nation’s fastest-growing sport, is rising annually from about 50% to 80%. In recognition of April as National Foot Awareness Month, we are looking at the growing rate of foot and other injuries among pickleball players and how the nation’s chiropractors treat them.

According to a survey of U.S. hospitals, an estimated 19,000 pickleball players are injured every year, more than 90% of them age 50 or older. Many pickleball players last played sports a long time ago, meaning their bodies are at an elevated risk for foot problems, muscle strain, and overuse injuries.

Many of the chiropractors who visited our booth at the recent Parker Seminar convention in Las Vegas were either treating pickleball players, playing the sport themselves, or both. One of our visitors was a chiropractor who plays on the Pro Pickleball Association tour, a series of events where top players battle for titles and rankings at 26 tour stops nationwide. He told us he is seeing a rapid increase in injuries among pickleball players, especially those over 60, on the tour and in his professional practice.

Pickleball players often aggravate plantar fasciitis and neuropathy in older players. Visitors to our booth were intrigued by the AIRfeet RELIEF moving insoles we had on display. These innovative products can be placed over orthotic devices or directly on the shoe’s sole, and many pickleball players wear them to cushion their feet, ankles, knees, and lower back. We also carry Biofreeze’s professional analgesic products, including gels and individually wrapped, flexible patches. Biofreeze is the only topical analgesic endorsed for treating sports injuries by the American Chiropractic Association and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Chiropractors also treat plantar fasciitis and neuropathy with light therapy. We carry the DNA Vibe device, which emits red light, near-infrared light, magnetic vibrations, and micro-vibrations. Clinicians using the DNA Vibe with laser therapy are seeing better results. The DNA Vibe also improves profits for chiropractors who sell the device directly to patients in their offices or charge patients to use it for individual therapy sessions.

Chiropractors’ holistic approach is well-suited to providing preventive and healing therapies to aging pickleball athletes, and a growing number of clinicians are focusing on these active seniors in their marketing efforts. In addition to foot injuries, sprained ankles and pulled hamstrings are common among pickleball players. Others suffer pickleball elbow, a strain in a large tendon on the outside of the elbow similar to tennis elbow.

To reduce the risk of injury, players need education about the value of resistance training, aerobics, and exercises to improve balance and flexibility. Aging athletes also benefit from learning effective warm-up and cool-down routines and the preventive effects of dynamic stretching. No one is better suited to provide this education than chiropractors.

We are always looking for new therapies for strains, sprains, neuropathy, and other conditions you are encountering in your practice. Please call us for more information on our products or to discuss your needs; we would love to hear from you.