AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the past few years, pickleball’s popularity has picked up throughout Austin.
East Austin resident Drew Callahan regularly plays pickleball and has watched its growth.
“It’s sweeping the nation, it’s gotten huge,” he said.
With more people playing the sport, an abundance of injuries are piling up.
According to USA Pickleball, in an estimated 19,000 pickleball injuries occur each year, a statistic that’s significantly increased over the last 10 years.
Callahan says his father took a tumble while playing pickleball.
“There was a ball going over his head and he ran directly into a wall,” he said. “I know that he went down pretty good.”
Across Austin, physical therapists are seeing an uptick in patients suffering pain from pickleball.
David Romero is a physical therapist at Texas Physical Therapy Specialists, or Texas PTS. He says common injuries include sprained ankles, and knee and shoulder injuries.
“Patients tell me they’re playing three, four or five hours a day,” Romero said.
“Even doing that several times a week can really start to pop up those injuries, when you’re overusing a lot of those muscles.”
Romero recommends avoiding loose shoes — such as flip-flops and sandals — to avoid injuries through slips or falls.
He also advises people to take proactive measures in order to prevent pain. Meaning not just static stretching but dynamic warming up.
“More sport-specific related movements at a lower intensity,” Romero said. “To prime your body to get ready for that game that you’re about to play.”
When asked how he warms up, Callahan admits there’s room for improvement.
“I probably stretch for about five to ten minutes, just have a couple of easy rallies before we get going,” he said. “That’s probably about it, should be more though.”
Unlike most sports, pickleball is played by all ages.
For Romero, this means the number of new injuries may extend over time.
“It is across the whole lifespan that I’m seeing these injuries,” he said. “So, I’d estimate quite a few of these pop up over the next few years, as it becomes more popular.”
To learn more about Texas PTS and additional tips to prevent accidents on the pickleball court, click here.