Injuries are something all athletes desperately hope to avoid but must confront at some point while engaging in a sport. Pickleball is no exception to that rule; however, there are several ways you can help prevent common pickleball injuries and lessen their severity when they do occur.
One of the most critical mistakes many recreational players make is neglecting to warm up with stretches and other exercises. Of course, you’re eager to hit the court and start getting dinks in, but first, you must get your body loosened up and ready to move.
Today, we’ll take a look at a few of our favorite ways to warm up courtside before a big match. All it takes is five to ten minutes to feel more comfortable and confident that your body is ready to be on the court for a few games.
You’ll need a couple of resistance bands for our first two exercises – one heavy and one light. Fortunately, as far as workout gear goes, resistance bands are pretty cheap, only costing a few bucks a piece. The Fit Simplify Exercise Bands are a good intro set of bands, which can be bought through Amazon.
Standing Fire Hydrants
The first workout is known as the standing fire hydrant. It works your glutes, hip flexors, adductors, and a little bit of your quads and hamstrings.
- Use a lighter band and bring it up around your knees.
- Stand on one leg and hinge your torso down slightly at the hip with your hands at your sides.
- Pull your opposite leg out to the side, keeping it slightly bent.
- Do 15 reps, and then switch to your other foot. Repeat.
- Do 2-3 sets for each side.
This workout is great for loosening up your lower body as well as your back, which helps prevent back injuries through your swings and leg/hip injuries.
Monster walks are a staple warm-up for runners, as they help stabilize your pelvis through single legs stances. This also directly applies to pickleball, as you’ll typically be moving all over the court.
- Place a heavier band between your two feet, with the band running around the middle of each foot.
- Starting at the baseline of the pickleball court in a relaxed stance, with a slight bend at the knees and a straight back, make a sideways stride with your left foot. Then, let your right foot slowly follow. Essentially, you are doing a slow, sideways slide-walk.
- Make your way all the way to the kitchen line, then without turning, start your way back to the baseline with your right foot leading the way.
- Repeat this exercise for 2-3 sets.
Utilizing monster walks within your workouts will also strengthen the Gluteus Medius, fighting against hip injuries and knee cave-in. Strong glutes are essential for combatting various overuse injuries since they are vital to the overall performance of leg movements.
Toe, Heel, Outer Foot, and Duck Walks
These next few walks all follow the same movements: starting at the baseline and slowly walking to the kitchen line, turning around and walking back to the baseline, then repeating for 2-3 sets. The walks differ in how your foot contacts the ground with each step, stretching different muscles and tendons within your legs and feet.
Toe Walks – Toe walks warm up your calves and Achilles tendons, preparing your lower body for forward movements.
Heel Walks – Heel walks are great for warming up your tibialis tendons and shins, which are vital for decelerating when approaching the kitchen.
Outer Foot (Supinating) – Walking on just the outer sides of your feet, otherwise known as supinating, helps stretch outer foot muscles and gets your ankles ready for agile movements back and forth.
Duck Walks – Duck walks are the opposite of supinating, as you’ll be widening your stance in order to walk on the insides of your feet. This also stretches your feet similarly to outer foot walks, and strengthens your ankles.
Leg swings are a tremendous stationary exercise to fully loosen up your legs and hips before hitting the court. All you need to do is find an unused net post or the fence around the court and start swinging your legs back and forth!
Start with cross-body leg swings by placing one leg straight on the ground and having your other leg swing back and forth in front of your body. 15-20 swings per side is all you need. This will open up your hips and adductors.
Next, do forward leg swings. You’ll have one leg planted firmly on the ground and then swing your other leg forward as high as possible before bringing it back behind you as far as you can. Again, 15-20 swings per side. This will warm up your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
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