What Are the Best Warm-Up Exercises and Stretches to Prevent Pickleball-Related Injuries?

Ask any athlete, fitness trainer, or sports therapist, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: a proper warm-up before physical activity is crucial to keeping your body in tip-top shape. The best warm-up will depend on the activity. Continue reading to learn which exercises these pickleball enthusiasts recommend to warm-up before you hit the courts.
Andrew Nasr

Andrew Nasr

Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapist at .

Shoulder Circles and Gentle Swings

For pickleball, the shoulder is key. Some shoulder circles and gentle swings go a long way. The hips and core also take a beating in pickleball with all that side-to-side shuffling and quick rotations. Do some hip circles and twists to get everything loosened up. And, of course, some light squats are great for the lower body. They activate the muscles from the feet to the hips without fatigue.

In addition to mobility work, mild stretches can target areas prone to strains or sprains. The side-lying leg lift opens up the hips and knees. And since you are running side-to-side a lot, calf and hamstring stretches are helpful. It’s best to mimic the movements of pickleball as much as possible during your warm-up. This preps both the muscles and joints for the specific task.

Stretches Targeting the Shoulder, Hips, and Core

Players can prime their bodies for pickleball with dynamic stretches targeting the shoulder, hips, and core. Arm circles progressively expand the shoulder’s range of motion, while hip swings/circles open up those key stabilizing joints. Twist stretches elongate the back and sides to dial spine flexibility up to 11.

It’s vital to incorporate movement in warm-ups, too, not just static stretching. Quick lateral shuffles, backpedals and grapevines help mimic actual in-game footwork. Doing a few practice serves and volleys also helps calibrate coordination and control before competitive play.

The few minutes spent properly warming up pays dividends by preventing falls, muscle pulls and wonky knees. There are too many sidelined by injuries that simple dynamic stretches could’ve averted. So, do your body a favor and take my pre-play prep to heart for many more pain-free pickleball seasons ahead.

Adnaan Ayoub

Adnaan Ayoub

Clinical Exercise Physiologist at .
David Bakke

David Bakke

Pickleball Enthusiast at .

Quick Run Around The Court, Lunges, Core-Stretches/Twists

The first thing to do before any match is a quick run around the court. This gets the blood flowing, muscles working, and increases heart rate to the point where one can play the game and, hopefully, avoid injury.

Doing lunges before a pickleball match is huge. They get your legs and hips involved, which are sure to be in full demand once the match starts. They have to be loosened and warmed up.

You want to twist your trunk in both directions using a relevant exercise in order to warm up properly. Dynamic lateral stretches help as well.

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