BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — If tennis and racquetball married, their first-born would be pickleball. Pickleball play has grown so much recently, that the hardest part of the game now is finding an empty court, and it’s not just for grandparents. Pickleball increased 158 percent in the US, according to what’s called, ‘Picklehead Statistics.’ but for those 40 million players, the odds of being injured also skyrocket. We visit the Annapolis Pickleball Club and talk with one player who’s spent months healing from a severe knee injury.

Bob Friend, an Injured Pickleball Player says, “It’s a short paddle. It’s not a string game, and it’s with a plastic ball as opposed to a core rubber ball.”

Pickleball is social and appealing part of the game. Lots of laughter, but competitive spirits lead to getting hurt. 

“I’ve had two injuries playing pickleball. The last one that I had, which was my patella tendon tear in my left knee, was playing in a tournament.” Explains Bob.

Anyone can play pickleball, but 90 percent of injuries occur in those over 50.

John-Paul Rue, MD, Fellowship-trained Board-Certified Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon at Mercy Medical Center says, “One of the common misconceptions about pickleball, is that it’s less injury provoking than other sports. In most of the injuries that we see occur in the lower extremity, so in the knees and the ankles. They’re usually from a sudden lunging, jumping, twisting type of maneuver.”

Bob’s patella injury to his knee was intense.  

Doctor Rue explains, “He did, sort of, a sudden lunge, and what happened was, his quadriceps, his thigh muscles, contracted suddenly and actually ripped the tendon from off of the bone, just below the kneecap.”

Bob states, “The first four to six weeks, you’re pretty immobile. Then, you start to gain confidence, and the brace starts to come off, because you sleep with a brace for the first five weeks.”

So, how can you keep pickleball fun but safe from strains, sprains, and dislocations? Doctor Rue says, warm up, know your limitations and stretch before and after playing.

Doctor Rue says it will take Bob two to three years to get back to his, ‘full, explosive, competitive level.’ He reminds players that fractures are common, especially for low bone density in later years. So, he advises you to perhaps play a little slower than you think you need to, and you’ll play a lot longer! 

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Kirk Manson, Videographer.