Pickleball is continuing to grow in popularity and is a great form of exercise (+ a great way to have fun 😎). However, just like with any sport, pickleball is not without risk of injury. Here are our top 4 tips to decrease your chance of injury and to keep you from getting into a "pickle" with pickleball:
1. Prioritize a warm-up and cool-down. Taking the time for a warm-up and cool-down (even just 5 min each) not only decreases your injury risk but also can improve muscular performance and help with delayed onset muscle soreness. Since pickleball involves a lot of rotational movements, we recommend including rotational exercises in your warm-up/cool-down routines. Examples of these exercises include:
-Figure 4 dynamic stretch:
-Dynamic rotational trunk stretch:
-Dynamic lateral trunk stretch:
2. Ground your strokes. With racket/paddle sports, one of the most common mistakes I see are patients OVERusing their shoulder/rotator cuff and UNDERutilizing their core and glutes. Your power from your strokes should be coming from your core/legs, not your arms. One easy way to help with this is to be sure you are in a split stance position (i.e. one leg in front of the other) and shifting your weight towards the front leg when your racket/paddle makes contact with the ball (vs. feet together).
3. Incorporate stability exercises. As mentioned in the point above, it's important to have adequate postural strength in order to optimize your form and decrease your risk of injury. Participating in a regular strengthening program will help ensure your postural stabilizer muscles are able to support you and give you the power you need when it's time to pick up that paddle. Some examples of muscles/exercises to incorporate into your cross-training include:
-Glute med (aka lateral glutes):
4. Leave space between you and the ball. Whether you're performing a forehand or backhand, it's important to allow enough space between you and the ball not only to drive the ball forward but also to allow your muscles to reach their optimally length to contract. If you keep your arm scrunched in close to your body, you won't be able to achieve the necessary range of motion needed to follow through, potentially causing other muscles to help compensate.
We hope this blog gave you some helpful ideas to decrease your injury risk and optimize your pickleball performance. Feel free to send us a message if you have any questions!
Note: Not all exercises are appropriate for everyone. Always consult with your local PT prior to beginning a new exercise regimen.