Pickleball and Stretching

Pickleball and Stretching

People playing pickleball

Pickleball is the newest exciting sport that is sweeping the nation, and is especially popular in Arizona. Phoenix, being Arizona’s largest city, has many great opportunities to play pickleball. If you haven’t tried pickleball yet, there are a few things you should know.

Pickleball involves quick steps from side to side. This can really put a large amount of stress on a person’s ankles. The good news is that this can help to strengthen the ankles over time. The bad news is that new players can injure their ankles. Also, as the muscles that control the ankles strengthen, they can become restricted and tight. Stretching can help to loosen those tight muscles and prevent injury. Located in Chandler, Arizona, iFlex Stretch Studios offers custom stretching services that can address pickleball injuries and help to reduce injuries in players who are getting used to the game.

The muscles that control the movement of the ankle are located in the lower leg. They include the calf muscle, which is called the gastrocnemius and soleus deep to it. On the side of the leg, the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis control side to side motion. This is the muscle that is often injured or weak, and if it is not strong enough, can allow the ankle to roll inward, cause an ankle sprain. The muscle on the front- in the shin area- is called the tibialis anterior helps to raise the front of the foot when you take a step. All these muscles control the motion of the ankle. These muscles can either be strong and healthy- contributing to a winning pickleball player, or tight and weak, allowing injury.
Stretching can help these muscles stay healthy and balanced, and at iFlex, our Stretch Therapists know exactly how to help.

Pickleball also uses the arm to swing and hit the ball. The shoulder, elbow and wrist all need to be working properly to avoid injury. When the player swings to hit the ball, the muscles on the front of the shoulder contract. The main muscle here is called the pectoralis major. This is the large muscle on the chest, and it controls the shoulder motion going forward. After the ball is hit, the arm has to stop moving, and the small muscles on the back of the shoulder have to contract to stop the arm’s motion. The main muscle that does this is located on the back of the scapular, and is called the infraspinatus. Because the infraspinatus is small, it often can become injured. The strange thing about this muscles, however, is that when it becomes injured, instead of feeling the pain on the back of your shoulder, you may feel a referral pattern- and experience pain on the front of your shoulder. Having a proper evaluation at our Chandler location is a great way to make sure your shoulder is healthy if you are playing pickleball in the Phoenix area.

Pickleball also uses your hips and back to play a good game. The muscles in your hips control the position of your legs and help control how you move during the game. By keeping these muscles strong and loose, you can have success on the court. Also, the muscles in the hips, control the position of the sacrum, and from there, the angle of the spine. If you have back pain, or a back injury, getting the hips properly aligned can help reduce back pain. In fact, a lot of back pain can be healed by getting the hips to work properly. By stretching the gluteus muscles, and also the adductors and abductors of the hips, the pickleball player can stay loose and strong. Some of the muscles that control the back originate on the ilium- the hip bone. So making sure this is not higher or lower than the bone on the other side, can keep you in balance. Getting a trained professional to look at your alignment, is a great way to prevent injury. Some of the muscles that control the back are called the erector group. Specifically, the longissimus muscles and the iliocostalis muscles are related to back pain. There is a lot of leaning forward while playing, so these muscles can get stressed. Stretching them can keep them from becoming injured.

Finally- the wrist gets involved in pickleball, every time you hit the ball. To prevent an injury to the wrist, you must keep the wrist muscles healthy and loose. To do this, stretching is essential. The muscles that control the wrist are located in the forearm. The muscles that flex the wrist are located in the front of the forearm, and the muscles that extend the wrist are located on the back of the forearm. The muscles in the front are strong, so we can carry items with our palms up. The muscle of the back of the forearm are week, since we don’t usually carry objects with our palms down. This means that when pickleball players use their backhand stroke, it can injury the muscles on the back of the forearm. These muscles usually get injured way up in the arm- where they attach to the outside of the elbow. Although this is an injury to the wrist extensor muscles, it is located at the elbow. This is commonly called tennis elbow- and is pain on the outside of the elbow. To prevent injury to these muscles, stretching is important. At iFlex Stretch Studios in Chandler, Phoenix, Arizona, our therapists can help to prevent injuries by offering assisted stretching.

So although pickleball is fun and exciting, it can also be hard on your body. Knowing how to take care of your muscles for maximum health, will allow you to enjoy the game! To recap- the motion side to side is very stressful on your ankles- and the motion of of hitting the ball can stress your shoulder and wrist. Stretching can help, and assisted stretching by a profession is even better! If you are ever in Phoenix, come in and see us, we would be happy to help you be top of your game.