How to Safely Start Playing Pickleball

10/03/2023 | 3 min. read

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Pickleball is more than just a new sports craze: it is a passageway that allows former couch potatoes to transition into full-on athletes in a matter of a few weeks. Easy to learn, safe, and fun to play, pickleball gains more fans every day from athletes to celebrities to ordinary people who just want to get more exercise into their lives. But with any sport, there are potential risks involved so it’s important to balance the fun with injury prevention at the same time.

Pickleball shares similarities with badminton as it involves playing on a small court with a net but players use paddles and a wiffle ball. There is not much of a learning curve to the sport and beginners can play competently well after a short time.

Pickleball is Great for Beginners

The great beauty of pickleball is that it can be played by people at all fitness levels—from college athletes to more sedentary folks. While there are skills that can be improved, most pickleball players become competent enough to enjoy themselves and play respectably well after a short time.

Best of all, pickleball can cause a mental transformation, particularly in sedentary people or older individuals who previously thought sports were beyond them. Pickleball may be one of the most inclusive sports going, because it allows just about everyone who can stand and swing a paddle to play. This is not to say the game is boring, though. A good pickleball game, which takes perhaps 15 or 20 minutes, involves running, hitting, scoring points, and even using a little strategy on your opponent.

How to Prevent Pickleball Injuries

While pickleball is a great way to ease back into a regular exercise program, former couch potatoes should be warned that any type of exercise program carries some degree of risk so you want to make sure you do all you can to prevent pickleball injuries. Before playing your first game of pickleball, make sure you have good-quality sports shoes. Running shoes work well and make sure they have a big “toe box” (the part of the shoe between where your toes end and the shoe begins). Good shoes should be well cushioned and lace up snugly. Running shoes are only good for a limited number of miles so if your shoes have lost their bounce or are tight or do not lace up in a way that supports the foot, you may have to invest in a new pair.

Although pickleball is easy to learn, there are some important techniques that new players must grasp to play well and avoid common pickleball injuries. Stretch for a few minutes before play. Learn proper techniques. These mostly involve how the paddle is properly held and the best way to serve and return the ball. These tips are things you can learn from other experienced players or instructors at the court. Just because pickleball is easy does not mean you can play with poor technique. In fact, a lot of pickleball injuries trace back to errors in how the paddle was held.

How to Recover after Pickleball

Following a game of pickleball, take some time to cool down. Many players ice down their lower legs or wrists after a game. This is a safe easy way to help tame potential inflammatory pain and soothe muscles. Following each game, applications of a topical pain reliever such as Instaflex Extra Strength Pain Relief Cream on overused muscles of the calves, thighs, and arms can be helpful. Not only does Instaflex soothe sore muscles and joints, but it also provides fast relief and absorbs rapidly through your skin for your toughest aches and pains, even arthritis! Mild pain and stress on muscles can benefit from topical pain relievers between games as well.

In summary

So, whether you're a former couch potato looking for a fun, social way to stay active, or an experienced player honing your skills, pickleball is a sport that embraces everyone. Just make sure to follow some simple rules to avoid common pickleball injuries and stay healthy on and off the court.

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Meet Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi is an internationally recognized expert in pain medicine who has spent much of his career studying what pain is, why it occurs, and how best to treat it. That experience has led him to believe strongly that there are often ways to relieve or manage pain which are overlooked or discounted, and that the most effective treatment approaches are always multi-modal.

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