FOR YOUR HEALTH: Pickleball, Anyone? Avoid Injuries While Playing This Popular Sport

Lately is seems as though you can’t pass a park or court without spotting people engaged in a lively game of pickleball. The fast-moving sport seems to have come out of nowhere and captured the interest of young and old alike, who can’t get enough of it. With all that play there is inevitably the possibly of strain and injuries, caution chiropractors.

People who may have been inactive or less active over the past few years should be especially careful when picking up a pickleball paddle and charging into “the kitchen” (the non-volley zone on either side of a pickleball net). “For some, starting to play pickleball has resulted in a rather sudden increase in physical activity, which is one of the risk factors we see for injuries in many other sports,” explains Dr. Michael Braccio, an American Chiropractic Association (ACA) member and pickleball enthusiast.

Even if you are in fairly good shape and exercise regularly, you may not have experience with racquet sports, which can also leave you vulnerable. Elbow, shoulder and wrist injuries are the most common in pickleball, says Dr. Braccio. Injuries in the knees and ankles are common in the lower body. Even low back pain can result from the squats and lateral lunges that are common during “dink rallies” (soft, low shots).

As in sports, when it comes to injuries a good offense is just as important as defense. Dr. Bracco offers a few tips to help keep pickleball players in the kitchen and out of their doctor’s office:

Do warm up. While you may be tempted to just step on the court and play, not allowing your body to properly warm up could increase your injury risk. Aim for a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and include some light cardio movements along with shoulder exercises such as arm circles.

Don’t overdo it. “It’s not uncommon to start playing pickleball multiple days in a row for several hours,” says Dr. Braccio, “which can result in a sudden increase in load, increasing the risk of injuries. So, gradually increasing the amount of load can be a useful strategy, making sure that there are recovery days so that the body can adapt.”

Do strength training exercises. Another way to prevent pickleball injuries is to condition your body so it can better tolerate the increased load. “Strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff, core and knees are all areas that people playing pickleball would benefit from focusing on,” Dr. Braccio says, “initially working on building up general strength in those areas and then working into performing quicker movements similar to the movements in pickleball.”

Don’t forget to protect your eyes. Pickleball Magazine reports that the average pickleball travels baseline to baseline in just one second – half the time it takes a tennis ball to cross the same distance.

Taking these steps can help you continue to play the sport you love without injury, while also enjoying the social benefits. “For myself, not only is pickleball a lot of fun, but the community surrounding it is awesome,” shares Dr. Braccio. “There’s a great social aspect of playing with friends and meeting new people.”

For more on chiropractic, injury prevention tips or to find an ACA member in your area, visit


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