Classes & Events News Get

Pickleball Protection: 6 Tips to Keep Your Body Safe

September 12, 2023

Young man participates in pickle ball in the proper way to avoid injury.

A game with pickle in the name sounds fun and harmless. Right? However, as the sport’s popularity and competitiveness continue to climb, so do the injuries.

Christopher Wu, MD, specializes in sports medicine and internal medicine at Atlantic Health System. He says, “Repetitive motions strain the muscles, tendons and joints. This leads to overuse injuries that usually develop gradually over time from improper techniques, inadequate warm-ups, or excessive playing time.”

Some of the most common injuries that sideline pickleball players are tennis elbow and sprains or strains to the knees, ankles and shoulders. To protect yourself, here are a few simple adjustments to your off-court routine that will help prevent or manage injuries.

Pace yourself. Start slowly and learn what your body can handle. If you’re new to the game, gradually increase the intensity and duration of play so your body can adapt to the demands of the sport. Rest days are also crucial for recovery.

Strengthen and stretch.
Consistent cross training makes you less vulnerable to injury. When you incorporate resistance training, cardio, and yoga into your active lifestyle, you balance out the physical demands on your joints and muscles.

Warm up and cool down.
A warm-up prepares the muscles, joints, and heart for intense play. A few dynamic stretches such as lunges and arm circles, will get your body and heart ready for the work ahead. And when you’re done playing, stretch your quads and hamstrings, arms, chest and back to aid recovery.

Get the right equipment.
Your game should start with the proper footwear. Find a sturdy shoe that provides stability and comfort. A court shoe is best, since running shoes are not designed for quick cutting movements. You may even consider wearing a compression arm sleeve for warmth and support.

Your water bottle is as essential as your paddle. Sweating and breathing makes your body lose water, especially in the heat and humidity. To avoid feeling weak or fatigued during or after play, make sure you’re taking water breaks regularly.

Learn proper technique.
It’s always a good idea to learn the correct technique for various shots from experienced players or instructors. When you have good hitting form, you can significantly reduce strain on vulnerable body parts.

“Let your body be your guide and pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain,” says Dr. Wu, who uses conservative, nonoperative methods to treat orthopedic injuries. “Remember, if you’re in pain, stop playing, ice the injury and cut back activity to see if the pain subsides. If it persists or gets worse, talk to your primary care doctor or a sports medicine specialist. Our goal is the same as yours, to keep you in the game for years to come.”


Be Proactive About Your Health

To stay safe and healthy, it's good to have a primary care provider who knows and understands your health history and wellness goals.

  • Healthy Living