What every pickleball player should know to cut down on injuries

Pickleball is the sport that is invading tennis courts all over the country,  It is now the third-most popular sport in the country, known for its great social interaction, physical activity and too often, injuries.

"What is important about pickleball is you focus on the ball that is coming at you and try to hit the ball up front, so you won't be hit by the ball,"  said Tokey at Lifetime Fitness in Troy.

There's Deena's pickleball lesson.

But before she hits the court - meet 59-year-old Marybeth Carozza- she's been playing pickleball for 2 years.

"After playing six months I realized afterward I was smiling, my cheeks were hurting, everything about it was just fun," she said.

Smiling - until she heard a funny sound and felt a strange pop. 

"I was in the middle of a play and it felt like a pickleball hit me in the back of a calf," she said. "And I was looking around for the ball and everyone was like, 'What is she doing?' and then I tried to walk and it didn't feel right."

"It's really important that you identify the injury quickly," said Dr. Brandon Kakos.

Kakos, from the Detroit Medical Center's Sports Medicine department, discovered Marybeth had a calf tear. She's one of many of his pickleball patients. 

"I always tell people that there are three variables you want to keep in mind - the intensity of the work you're doing, your fitness level and duration," he said.

Dr. Kakos insists stretching is the secret to avoid pickle-related pain.

"Dynamic stretching is what you want to do, you want to get blood flow to the muscles that you are going to use prior to doing that activity and prior to putting stress on our muscles, tendons and our joints," he said. Dynamic means with movement, so a nice dynamic movement can cut down on injuries."

Now it's time to play pickleball. Remember when you warm up, you loosen the tendons that connect your muscles to the bones - that helps prevent injury.

It doesn't seem to help Deena's game form," she quipped.

Marybeth however, is looking good, back at it after lots of physical therapy.

Pickleball can be played by any age, any athletic level, but remember injuries are more likely to occur if you are over 40 - and even more likely for those over 50.

Keep that in mind and keep stretching before the game.