Cramping is a common issue that can occur when playing pickleball, especially during long matches or when playing in hot and humid conditions. And, it can happen to players of any age—from teenagers like pro pickleballer William Sobek at the 2023 US Open Pickleball Championships, to senior players.
Cramping can kill your pickleball game and cause a lot of pain to your body. So, it is clearly best to avoid cramping on the court. So, here are 7 tips to help you prevent cramping on the pickleball court:
- Stay Hydrated – Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your pickleball game to prevent dehydration, which can lead to cramping. In particular, it is important to drink fluids that can help maintain electrolyte balance in the body. These include:
- Water – Drinking plenty of water is crucial in preventing cramping and staying hydrated. You could also consider adding electrolyte packets to your water (be sure to check ingredients and avoid packets that may contain high amounts of sugar).
- Coconut Water – Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium. It is a good option for hydration and electrolyte replacement during and after playing pickleball.
- Sports Drinks – Sports drinks (like Gatorade) contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which can help prevent cramping and provide energy during intense physical activity (such as playing in a pickleball tournament). However, they are also high in sugar, so it is important to drink them in moderation.
- Pedialyte – Pedialyte is another potential source of electrolytes and, similar to sports drinks, should be drank in moderation.
- Fruit Juice – Fruit juice can be a good source of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Look for juices that are low in added sugar and high in potassium, such as orange juice or prune juice.
- Herbal Tea – Herbal teas (like chamomile or peppermint) can be a good way to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes. Some herbal teas also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after playing pickleball.
Again, it is important to drink fluids regularly throughout the day (and the days leading up to a big event or competition), not just during pickleball games, to ensure that your body stays hydrated and maintains electrolyte balance.
- Eat a Balanced Diet – Make sure you are eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Some foods that can help prevent cramping include:
- Bananas – Bananas are a good source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that helps regulate muscle and nerve function. They also contain magnesium, which can help prevent muscle cramps.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy greens (such as spinach and kale) are rich in magnesium, which can help prevent muscle cramps. They also contain potassium and other important nutrients.
- Avocado – Avocados are a good source of potassium and magnesium, as well as healthy fats and fiber. They can help maintain electrolyte balance and prevent cramping.
- Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds (such as almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds) are good sources of magnesium and other important minerals. They can be a healthy snack option to help prevent cramping.
- Watermelon – Watermelon is a great source of hydration and contains electrolytes (like potassium and magnesium). Watermelon is also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and support overall health.
- Stretch Before and After Your Pickleball Game – Light stretching before and after your pickleball game (particularly, dynamic stretches beforehand) can also help to prevent cramping.
- Wear Appropriate Clothing – Wear light, breathable clothing that will help keep you cool and dry during your play on the pickleball court. Heavy clothing could increase the amount that you sweat on the court, which could cause you to lose necessary electrolytes.
- Take Breaks – If you start to feel cramping or muscle fatigue, take a break and rest for a few minutes to allow your muscles to recover before resuming your pickleball play.
- Stay in Physical Shape – Regular exercise and conditioning can help build endurance and prevent cramping on the pickleball court.
- Use Proper Technique – Make sure you are using proper technique when hitting the pickleball, as improper form can put unnecessary strain on your muscles and increase the risk of cramping.
Remember, if you do experience cramping during your pickleball game, stop playing immediately and rest until the cramping subsides. If the cramping persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as swelling or severe pain, seek medical attention right away.