I hate to tell you this, but most of you pickleball players (other than Anna Leigh Waters and Jorja Johnson) aren’t 15 anymore. Hell, neither am I. As a beginning pickleball player at the ripe ole age of 32, I have had my fair share of running all over the pickleball court and “feeling it” the next day. So, our topic of the day is injury prevention to keep you happy and healthy on the pickleball court.
So, let's get started with what are the major injuries you can sustain as a pickleball player. If it flexes, extends, twists, or rotates, you can injure it. The biggest pickleball-related injuries are musculoskeletal- and joint-related issues. In other words, strains, sprains, and tears of the wrists, elbows, shoulders, back, quads, hamstrings, knees, and ankles. As you may have noticed, there wasn’t many large muscle groups or joints that I didn’t name. So, what is the easiest way to prevent whole body trauma?
A warm up.
I know, I know. I hate warming up, too. I mean let’s just get going, right?
Getting your muscles moving prior to any extended exercise is vital.
One of my attending physicians in medical school used to tell his patients, they were a mint condition old school car. While they might be worth a million bucks, their parts had seen better days. Just like that old school car, in order for your body to purr like a kitten and be at its peak performance, it needs to be warmed up first.
And, honestly, no matter your age, any athlete should have a good warm up. If Michael Phelps can warm up for 45 minute prior to his events, you can do a 5- to 10-minute warm up.
What constitutes a good warm up?
If you Google, "pickleball warm up," there are several YouTube videos, blogs, and websites with an overwhelming amount of recommendations. You can spend a few hours reading up on the proper way to do a hip thrust. But, don’t worry, below are some of the exercises that would be the most effective to prevent injuries on the pickleball court.
When is comes to a warm up, dynamic stretching is the name of the game. Dynamic stretching is actively moving your joints and muscles with pickleball-specific motions for 10 to 12 repetitions, with a focus on certain muscles groups. Below is a list that should fit the bill:
Arm Swings: Swing horizontal (like you are giving yourself a hug), circular (true arm circles), and forward (from front to back).
Trunk Twists: Stand up tall with feet shoulder width apart and twist side to side.
High Knees: Alternate bringing your knees up to your chest. Try slowly or more quickly. The key is to complete the full range of motion.
Lunges: Stand with your feet together, step forward, and go as low as comfortable in a lunge. Your weight should not go over your front knee. Hold for a second, and then step back to alternate legs.
Side Shuffles: Shuffle from one side of the pickleball court to the other side.
Slow Jog: Take a lap or two around the pickleball court to get the heart pumping.
Hopefully, you find this list useful and easy to incorporate into your pre-pickleball routine. With that said, if it hurts, don’t do it. The goal is to help keep you healthy on the pickleball court, not injure you before you even get started. Always start slow, and then build up speed until you feel comfortable with the exercise.
Do you warm up? What is your favorite warm-up exercise? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.