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Prevent Pickleball Injuries With Simple Stretches

Prevent Pickleball Injuries

This blog post was written by Justin Scherff, a Core Physical Therapy PT.

I had a new patient for evaluation of shoulder pain the other day.  She was mentioning that she had been to Core for a wrist fracture earlier in the year.  The culprit: pickleball

She also said when she went into the doctor to have it evaluated, he said: “You’re the 4th person that I’ve seen THIS MORNING for an injury from pickleball.”

What Is Pickleball?

The popularity of pickleball is growing faster than a raging wildfire.  It’s a sport that is easily accessible from a skill level, low cost of entry, and allows for a novel activity for people of all ages.  All over the nation, tennis courts are being updated to add pickleball courts, tournaments are exploding all over the USA, and so are pickleball related injuries… to the tune of over $400 million in the US alone.

While seemingly a simple and safe sport, pickleball requires quick muscle contractions, body control in multiple directions, and hand-eye coordination.If you have not been training for this and want to play consistently, there’s a hole that needs to be filled in your training. If you are lacking in any of these areas and want to make sure you can handle the demands of the sport, you may need to add some specific targets to your training.

You might think:  I’m really active, I like to walk and bike, maybe lift some weights, be active in the yard, play golf, etc.  These are all FANTASTIC methods of exercise and will give you some benefit for pickleball.

But very few of those modes of exercise require the change of direction control and strength while trying to swing and hit a moving target. Many of us participated in sports like these when we were younger, but few keep up the regularity and consistency required to have a solid footing when playing this sport.

There is good news! You can help yourself stay safe and improve mobility on the court, no matter what age you are.  Our body will adapt to the demands we place on it. Our body has the ability to adapt to the demands we place on it, we just need a solid plan.

Here are a few simple exercises you can do RIGHT NOW to set yourself up for success on the pickleball court at any age.

Note, this is not specific medical advice but general recommendations.  To have your specific needs evaluated to create a customized plan for YOU, schedule an appointment here with Justin.


Single leg balance

Improving single leg balance is KEY for any activity. Make it a goal of 30 sec on each leg without holding onto anything or touching your legs for support.  Do this minimum 2-3x/day for a couple minutes.  I like doing it while brushing my teeth, incorporating it into a daily activity I already do.

To make it harder stand on an uneven surface with the same goal, a folded-up bath towel is a great way to increase difficulty



find a counter or wall and walk along it side-to-side.  To make it more challenging, bend the knees as you go. This can help you have better balance moving side to side. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each day.


To make it harder add a small resistance band around your knees as pictured below.


Building strong legs will help to keep you safe on the court and extend your playing career.  An easy way to help is go to the bottom of your stairs, put one foot on the step.  Step up-down without holding on 2-3 sets up to 20.  Then you can progress to step-downs.  Working on lowering down very slowly and stepping back up quickly to build explosive power in the legs.


Heel-toe raises

Strengthening the muscles of the lower leg help to protect your ankle and knees from injury.  I like slow and controlled with these, 2-3 sets of up to 10-15 each day.

To make it harder try using one leg, quickly raise and slowly lower with the same sets and repetitions above:

With these SIMPLE exercises, you are well on your way to helping to reduce the chances of injury for a happier and longer career.  Who knows…you may be a natural!

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