Courtesy of Excelsior Orthopaedics

As pickleball skyrockets in popularity, so do injuries associated with the fast-growing sport.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recently analyzed pickleball-related fractures over a 20-year period, and the study found a 90-fold increase in fractures, mostly in older players between the ages of 60 and 69 years old. The injuries surged from the year 2020 on.

Of the reported injuries, the AAOS found that most fractures were of the upper body in women 65 and older following a fall. However, despite women having more observed fractures than men, the AAOS reports men were 2.3 times more likely to be admitted to the ER, which the Academy suggests could be due to more severe fractures in men, including different body parts like the hip and femur.

So, why does the risk for fracture increase with older adults? Bone density can decrease over time, particularly in women who are more prone to osteoporosis, which weakens bone strength. Purposeful physical activity and strength training can help.

“Clinical research has shown us that weight-bearing activity and resistance training positively impacts bone density,” says Jim Starkey, MS, ATC, CSCS. “An increase in bone density will reduce the risk for stress-related fractures in athletes of all ages, but is especially important in older adults.” Starkey is an Excelsior Sports Performance coach at Excelsior Orthopaedics. He works with athletes and people of all abilities and ages to help them reduce their risk of injury and improve at their sport.

“In clinic, we will see many adults who pick up a sport without previous preparation and are then set back with an injury. Programs like Fit4Life are an excellent way to ensure you are setting yourself up for the best possible outcome,” Starkey says. Fit4Life is Excelsior Sports Performance’s group training program for adults. The small group setting allows coaches to pay individualized attention to each person’s technique and strength. But remember – the benefits also include sustaining bone health. Pickleball is just one example of reasons older adults are getting injured and why strength training can help combat the AAOS’ statistics. Decrease in bone density with age is a risk to any adult playing any sport.

“A common misconception of functional training is that this type of exercise only improves muscular strength; however, it also does wonders for bone health. Incorporating weight-bearing exercises – whether utilizing your own body weight or adding fitness equipment – is crucial because it plays a significant role in sustaining strong bones and reducing the risk of injury,” says Megan Smith, MS, ATC, PES, also an Excelsior coach. “At Excelsior Sports Performance, our team of experts applies this evidence-based concept to our Fit4Life Adult Fitness program.”

An adult fitness class has other benefits too – outside of improving bone health and your game on the court. Classes can help you build self-confidence, boost your overall well-being, and enhance your general athleticism. Learn more about Excelsior Sports Performance programs on our new website,, or call 716-906-5564.