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Preventing Pickleball Injuries

Robert J. Snyder, MD

Robert J. Snyder, MD

 It’s not often that I get to write about a sport that is as popular as pickleball.  What’s phenomenal about PBall is that you will find seniors playing the game with their great-grandkids, people from all communities will gather for the social and competitive aspects of the game, and because of the low cost of the paddle and ball, it’s easily accessible to most folks of all economic levels.  It brings people together and in today’s volatile world, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s also a lot of fun and that’s why it has become a global sensation.

In my last article, I wrote about common pickleball injuries and how I treat them.  Wouldn’t it be better if you could play PBall to your heart’s content without having to suffer an injury?  In this article, I’m going to talk about some simple things that you can do to maximize your chances of remaining healthy and on the pickleball court instead of on the sidelines.  So, pay attention!

The Danger of Doing Too Much, Too Quickly

See if this scenario sounds familiar to you…you’ve been working diligently at your job for years, saving for retirement for you and your spouse.  You’ve built your dream home in a glorious retirement community with all the amenities, including pickleball courts!  You can’t wait to get out there with all your new community friends and play, but you’ve been sedentary and gotten heavier in the last few years.  So, in your first game, you pick up that paddle, race out to the court, and give it your all. After only a few minutes of play, you end up out-of-breath and fall, injuring yourself.  But really, it’s your pride that’s injured the most.

Do yourself AND your retirement dreams a favor. Months before hitting the PBall court, hit the gym, start walking, rake leaves, go for a swim, do some yoga or any type of activity that gets you moving and your heart rate up.  Pickleball shouldn’t be the first activity you attempt after years of sitting on the sofa watching TV.  Start getting into condition long before your first court date and your body will thank you for doing so.

Warm-up and Stretching

I can’t stress the importance of stretching enough, especially if you are on the more senior side of life.  Pickleball stretches should focus on flexibility and range of motion for:

  • Ankles
  • Calves
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Neck

Dynamic warm-ups should also be incorporated to increase circulation during the stretching regimen.

Protective Gear

  • Invest in good, supportive sneakers with excellent ankle and arch support. If you intend on playing often, go get professionally fitted.
  • Wear an elbow brace or sleeve to help prevent tennis elbow
  • If you have knee issues, consider wearing a supportive knee brace or sleeve for play

Off-the-Court Learning

Just as with anything you want to do well, it is important to work on your pickleball court technique and development of your skills.  Find a professional coach or “pro” player to work with you on your stroke mechanics and footwork techniques.  Even one good instructional session with a pro can make a world of difference in your play and help to keep you safe on the court.





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