For amateur athletes across the Coachella Valley, pickleball is much more than just a sport; it’s a passionate competition on the court.
“It’s an energizing element for me,” said local pickleball player Robert Hofman. “I feel it in all of my fiber.”
Off the court, however, the related movements are taking big tolls on their bodies.
“All kinds of rolling the ankles to overheating and losing energy from not being hydrated enough to various muscle issues,” said Ellen Avery, an avid pickleball player. “Your body’s going one way, and you fall another way.”
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport across the country. Across the Coachella Valley, medical experts say it’s also one of the fastest rising reasons why people are visiting their offices.
“a lot of times we’ll get these kinds of twisting injuries,” said Luke Gentry, DPT, OCS, director of Movement for Life Physical Therapy in Cathedral City.
Gentry says his team is seeing a big increase in pickleball related injuries.
The main reason: lack of conditioning
“I always call it the “Weekend warrior issue” where they go out there and they do no training, and they go out there and they play three hours of pickleball,” he said.
Gentry says the best ways to prevent injuries is to start small, know your limits and practice pickleball related training.
“A lot of pickleball is these kinds of movements here where you’re stepping back,” he said. “What I like to do is simply just start with side shuffle movement going back and forth. And you can go forward and backwards. Forward and backwards.”
Back on court, some of these amateur athletes are showing no signs of slowing down…and plan on playing pickleball as long as they physically can.
“Daily until my body tells me I need a break,” Avery said, “My motto is smarter not harder these days to avoid injury.”
With pickleball’s popularity continuing to rise, gentry expects to see a continued increase in related injuries.
This story was written and reported by Kai Beech.