Pickleball: Five Stretches to Prevent Injury

Have you heard of Pickleball? If you have, you know it’s a sport rapidly-rising in popularity and making major waves in the recreational sport and the professional sports scenes. This sport also was recently boosted in the media when seven-time SuperBowl Champion Tom Brady invested in a professional Pickleball team in Major League Pickleball (MLP). 

How did Pickleball Start?

Although today we see professional tournaments and star-studded endorsements of the sport, Pickleball had humble beginnings. The game of Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three dads, trying to come up with a way to entertain their kids who were “bored” while on summer break. They had access to a Badminton court, ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. They created a game with simple rules and evolved the court over the weekend to have a lowered net and a harder surface. Just two years later, one of the original dads built an official Pickleball court and popularity organically grew until it was played in all 50 states by 1990. With continuing growth and development, the new USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 2003 and has grown to reach the 50,000 milestone and ended 2021 with just over 53,000 members.

The Basics of what you need to know about the game of Pickleball is succinctly described by the USA Pickleball organization:

  1. A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
  2. Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.
  3. Played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
  4. Played as doubles or singles.
  5. Can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels

Injuries Related to Pickleball

Locally, we can attest to the rising popularity of the sport, as the Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota areas have appreciated Pickleball courts as additions to parks and clubs. With this growing popularity, that means we tend to see a growing number of injuries related to Pickleball in our Regenexx at New regeneration Orthopedics offices. The Pickleball injuries we have seen, for the most part, are due to overuse. 

The overuse injuries we have seen from our Pickleball athletes have included:

  • Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
  • Wrist Sprain
  • Knee Pain 
  • Low Back Pain 

These common overuse injuries help us to identify the wrist, elbows, shoulder, low back, and knees as the most common areas susceptible to aches and pains with increased Pickleball play. So, if you got a new Pickleball kit, here are five stretches to do before and after you hit the court, to prevent you from slowing down your game. 

*Note: These stretches are example recommendations, and you should always consult your physician before beginning any new fitness regimen.

Exercises to Prevent Injury

  1. Wrist Flexor Stretch
  • With your elbow straight and your palm facing up (forearm in a supinated position), extend the wrist and grab the fingers with your free hand.
  • Gently pull your fingers and wrist in extension toward the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for the recommended time.
  1. Pec Stretch
  • Stand up next to a wall corner or in a doorway.
  • Place your forearm along the wall, with your upper arm raised 90° from your body.
  • Lean your body forward until you feel a stretch across your chest.
  • Hold for 30-90 seconds, rest and repeat three times. 
  1. Child’s Pose With Rotation
  • Start on all fours and push your hips back so your buttocks rest on your heels. You may want to have your knees apart to be more comfortable.
  • Reach forward with your hands and hold the stretch for 30-90 seconds.
  • Next, reach to one side with both hands and hold the stretch for 30-90 seconds.
  • Then, reach to the other side and hold the stretch for 30-90 seconds.
  1. Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Position yourself in a half-kneeling stance with the leg to stretch placed behind.
  • Lean forward at the hip while twisting your trunk toward the front leg hold for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  1. Quad Stretch
  • Stand in front of a chair or a stable object and hold on to it with one hand.
  • Grab the top of one ankle with one hand and pull your foot towards your buttock until you feel a gentle stretch in front of the thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for 60-90 seconds, keeping your lower back neutral (not arching) and return to the initial position. The goal is to be able to gently, over time, be able to touch your knee to your buttock without strain. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

We’re Here to Help

If wrist, elbow, shoulder, back or knee pain are interfering with your Pickleball game, our physicians at Regenexx at New Regeneration Orthopedics are a great starting point to get a comprehensive evaluation, and an honest recommendation of what the best course of action for you would be. Our goal is to keep you out on the Pickleball court, pain free! 

References: 

  1. Physiotec.ca
About The Author
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.

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