How To Play Pickleball Without Hurting Yourself

How To Play Pickleball Without Hurting Yourself

September 17, 2021

…or “Tips for continuing playing pickleball as you get older.”

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. The rules are similar to tennis, but pickleball courts are half the size of a standard tennis court. It can be played with two or four players, which allows for a social aspect similar to tennis.

Pickleball initially attracted older adults, but it has since caught on among all ages, including children. As the popularity of the sport has increased, so have the number of younger players. 

Because of the smaller court size, it requires less movement and less demand on the knees, making it ideal for players looking for a less physically demanding sport than tennis. 

Studies have even shown that playing regularly can help to improve fitness levels, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and hand-eye coordination.

Despite being more straightforward and less physically demanding than tennis, injuries can still happen. It is important to make sure you are taking precautions to prevent injuries on the court. Some of the best precautions include adequate hydration, wearing proper footwear, using eye protection, and listening to your body.


Hydration is something that many people struggle with, even if they aren’t active. An estimated 75% of Americans fit the criteria for chronic dehydration. Proper hydration is the key to ensuring that your body can perform at its best. Water plays many essential roles in the functioning of a healthy body. It helps regulate body temperature, flushes out body waste, lubricates joints, and delivers oxygen to different parts of the body.

Even mild dehydration can put stress on several body functions. It has been linked to issues with concentration and short-term memory, irritability, and increased feelings of anxiety. Dehydration has even been linked to an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

High temperatures can lead to excessive sweating, resulting in water loss. Additionally, an outdoor pickleball court can be five degrees warmer than the air temperature, leading to an increased need for proper hydration in the summer months. 

Proper Footwear For Pickleball 

While playing pickleball, wearing the correct footwear has two significant benefits: added safety and potential for better performance.

Pickleball shoes are built specifically for playing pickleball and differ from standard tennis or athletic shoes. Traditional running shoes are made to be lightweight and are designed for forward, heel-to-toe movement, which is not present in most pickleball moves.

In terms of safety, pickleball shoes provide optimal stability while playing and provide added support for the quick stops and starts that often occur in pickleball.

They are usually slightly heavier than regular athletic shoes and are much sturdier. Not only does proper footwear provide you with more stability while playing, but it also helps with shock absorption. Added stability can help to eliminate the risk of a rolled ankle, while shock absorption can help reduce the chance of pain in your knees, feet, and back.

In addition to the safety advantages of pickleball shoes, they are also better for your overall performance while on the court. They are designed specifically for the movements that occur while playing pickleball, with specially designed bottoms to ensure you have adequate traction while moving. 

Strong Feet And Arches

When your arch collapses, your knees will rotate in, and even your hips and back can get out of alignment. We advise you to strengthen your feet– specifically your arches to prevent the strain of collapsed arches from creating tension and stress on your knees, hips, and spine. Check out one of our favorite foot strengthening exercises called the “short foot”

If you’re on the court more than an hour at a time, your arch muscles are going to fatigue. Fatigue in these muscles will contribute to your arches collapsing. Custom foot orthotics are your best bet to provide you with long-lasting arch support allowing you to spend more time on the court. Arch supports provide you with proper alignment, thereby taking stress off your ankles, knees, hips, and back. 

Custom orthotics are very different from the premade type that you will find in shoe stores or on the internet. Much like a fingerprint, every person has different feet with different needs. Custom orthotics are designed to fit your foot perfectly and provide support exactly where your feet need it.

CLICK HERE to request a free foot scan from Simply Physio to see if you may benefit from custom orthotics.

Need a landing page designed for the link to click for the foot scan request- currently working on this

Eye Protection

More than 600,000 sports-related eye injuries occur each year, with more than 14,000 of them resulting in permanent loss of vision. One of the easiest ways to prevent eye injuries while playing pickleball is by wearing protective eyewear. Whether you are a new player or a seasoned player, eye injuries can easily occur. 

A pickleball can travel around 40 MPH and go from one paddle to another in less than half a second, which is quicker than most people’s reaction time. A stray pickleball or paddle can cause irreversible damage to the eye or the area around the eye. Depending on the speed and angle of the ball or paddle, you can even go blind from being hit. 

In addition to protection from rogue balls or paddles, proper eyewear also helps protect you from the harmful effects of UV rays from the sun, which can cause damage to your eyes and permanent damage to your vision. 

While some players may be tempted to opt for regular sunglasses, there are glasses designed specifically for playing pickleball. Pickleball glasses typically have stronger lenses that are harder to break, and also tend to offer UV protection.

Stretching/Warming Up

As with any form of exercise, warming up and stretching remain easy ways to help curb injuries due to tight muscles. It also ensures that you can play the game without limitations on your movement. For example, suppose you attempt to swing your racquet without stretching your muscles. In that case, you won’t be able to rotate your arm correctly.

Stretching also helps increase blood flow to your muscles, which can reduce your recovery time and even help to reduce muscle pain after your game. Furthermore, stretching helps with increasing your flexibility, which can help to delay reduced mobility associated with aging.

Pickleball works muscles in every part of the body, so it is crucial to do various stretches. For arms, stretches such as arm circles and wrist rotations can help ensure that you have full range of motion in your upper body. Squats, lunges, and jumping jacks are good warm-up exercises to increase your heart rate while stretching important lower body muscles. Stretching and performing warm-up exercises are vital for ensuring that you reach your peak performance while on the court.

Listening To Your Body

Paying attention to your body can help prevent future injuries and tell you if you have an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s essential to pay attention to how your body feels before, during, and after exercise to ensure that you catch the warning signs early and prevent future issues. Some issues can easily be fixed by increasing your water intake or taking rest days from playing.

However, other problems can be severe enough to lead you to the physical therapist. Is pain keeping you from doing the exercise you love? Schedule your free Discovery Visit with Simply Physio now and find out more about our complimentary Discovery Visit Sessions, and see if you qualify.

Like many other forms of exercise, pickleball can result in a variety of injuries if you aren’t careful. Continually playing on a mildly injured ankle or foot can result in a much more serious issue over time. This is why it is important to pay attention to any pain or unpleasant feelings you may experience while playing. 

It can be tempting to start playing the new sport you discovered every day, but be aware that rest days are vital for efficient recovery and building up your strength. It can also help prevent burnout from exercising every day or injuries from overusing untrained muscles.

Do You Need To See Your Doctor?

As we age, it becomes even more critical to stay on top of your health. Most people do not need to consult a doctor before exercising. However, a few things to consider before beginning to exercise or increasing the intensity of your workouts include evaluating your current activity level, signs or symptoms of certain diseases, and how intense your exercise will be.

Going from not exercising at all to doing intensive exercise can also be harmful to the body.

Certain diseases, such as cardiovascular or kidney disease, can cause complications with intense exercise, so seek medical advice if you have a severe health-related disease before starting to exercise. But, if you’re like most of us and relatively healthy, just haven’t exercised consistently, or are a bit out of shape, then make some simple goals to get moving more consistently and get on with it!

Currently Injured? Don’t Ignore Your Pain Any Longer

Are you curious about staying safe while playing pickleball? If you’re looking for more information on how to prevent pickleball injuries, be sure to request our free e-book, “Top 8 Tips For Avoiding A Pickleball Injury”

Are you wondering about what kind of injuries to look out for? Or maybe even how to heal them? Be sure to check out our blog “Pickleball: 4 Most Common Injuries and the Secret Recovery Trick“.

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports for good reason. It is easy to learn the basics, requires minimal equipment, and is really fun. Be smart about how you play and make sure you take appropriate action to protect your health and stay free from an injury. 

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