Flexibility, cardio, and balance reactions are important for healthy pickleball play!
Pickleball is growing in popularity. Many middle aged and older adults find it to be a safer option to playing tennis. Although pickleball is confined to a smaller area requiring less running, it still requires good balance reactions and quick movements. While this makes it a great activity to keep you fit, it also can lead to health challenges if you don’t prepare your body before playing. Also, as we age and become less active overall, it is increasingly important to protect and prepare our bodies for the different activities we participate in with changing seasons. Likewise, for many sports, research has found it is important to prepare off season to improve play and prevent injuries (Vandervoort, 2009). Posted below are a few ideas for season preparation, warm ups, and precautions.
A great fun balance exercise idea for home bound seniors would be to use an inexpensive pickleball paddle and ball for activities in the home. This could be incorporated into coordination exercise, standing balance, trunk strengthening, and shoulder exercises! (affiliate link)
Although I am a physical therapist, I am not your physical therapist. this information is for educational purposes. Always consult your personal physician or health care professional for individual advice. See the medical disclaimer.
Pickleball season preparation and warm ups:
Perform regular general cardio activity (walking is great). Work up to a light jog or add side to side shuffles, and ladder drills.
Perform stretches for flexibility (tight muscles lead to injuries).
Strengthen the muscles that will be challenged: core, knee/hips (squats) and shoulders. don’t overlook strengthening your grip! Check out this grip strengthening kit to protect your wrists! (affiliate link)
Importantly, sharpen your balance for fall prevention safety, and also to prevent straining muscles with awkward saves. Check this link for more balance exercise and activities.
Take it easy the first few times you play, and slowly increase the competitive play!
This is a typical handout/ routine I would use to educate on pre- season preparation for golfing. For pickleball, I would add squats for leg strengthening and dynamic balance activities as noted above with the link.
Along with exercising prior to the outdoor playing season, it is important to establish and maintain good habits during the season.
Pickleball precautions and injury prevention:
Take the time to warm up every time you play: cardio, stretches, a few core exercises, a few minutes of dynamic balance activities.
Spend more time warming up as you age.
Monitor the competitive play: know your limits to prevent falling and straining muscles.
Stay hydrated. As we age (and certain medications can contribute) we are more susceptible to over heating.
Cool down after playing. Take a few minutes for deep breathing and relaxing stretches after play to bring your heart rate down and limit muscle soreness.
Mind your body mechanics, and squat or use the golfer’s reach for picking up balls.
Monitor your grip and wrist health. See a professional if you need advice for a better grip or racquet. Check out this grip strengthening kit to protect your wrists! (affiliate link)
If you experience pain that doesn’t go away within a few days, it is best to see a health care professional sooner, rather than later.
You may also like:
10 Tips for Senior Summer Safety
Improve Grip Strength with these 10 Tips
What other tips do you have, or exercises do you do to prepare for pickleball? Subscribe to my blog for a few health printable FREEBIES, and senior health care information and tips!
One thought on “Pickleball Preparation”
These are all great tips!