What’s not to love about the nation’s fastest-growing sport that's taking the country by storm - pickleball? The sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is easy to learn and slower paced. As more Americans pick up a paddle, there are also growing numbers finding themselves in a pickle when dealing with a pickleball-related injury.
Luminis Health physical therapist Shelby Schaefer and her colleagues have noticed an increase in injuries related to pickleball amongst their patients, particularly in the older population who have more limited movement in their spine and hips. Schaefer said the low-impact sport gives players a false sense of security. Your chances of strains and sprains increase because you’re pushing your body too hard with a lack of preparation. Common pickleball injuries include strains and sprains of the back, knee and ankle, as well as elbow and wrist injuries.
Prep Your Body
All levels of sport require some training and warm-up. The greatest risk for injury in any sport, including pickleball, comes from not preparing your body for the sport or warming up.
Here are some recommended pre-pickleball stretches for different parts of your body:
Helpful warm-ups before playing pickleball include squats, lunges, walking butt kicks or marches and army swings.
It’s also important to exercise outside of pickleball to keep up your upper and lower body strength.
When considering how often to play pickleball, think about your typical routine. If you haven’t played the sport and aren’t typically active, ease into it by playing once or twice a week. If you are regularly active and physically fit, daily pickleball play may be just fine. Remember to listen to your body — it will tell you when you need some rest and recovery time.
Complements for the Court
Other activities that are a nice complement to pickleball include water aerobics, yoga and Pilates. One final tip to ace the sport — play pickleball against an opponent who is at a similar ability level as you. It’s best not to play competitively when you are learning the sport.
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