What’s a pickler you may ask? A pickler is the name given to a person who plays pickleball. A mash-up of tennis, badminton and ping pong, this fast-paced and highly addictive sport has been gaining immense popularity in recent years. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, in 2022, there were 8.9 million picklers in the USA, up from 4.8 million in 2021. This makes pickleball the fastest growing sport in the USA!
Why should YOU become a pickler? Because exercise is medicine!
- Regular exercise helps strengthen the heart muscles, improve blood circulation, and lower blood pressure. As a result, it reduces the risk of developing various cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes.
- Exercise plays a crucial role in increasing longevity. This is attributed to the fact that exercise helps prevent chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
- Exercise promotes mental health by reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It boosts mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which all contribute to happiness and well-being.
Pickleball is a moderately intense sport so a couple of games a week is medicine for the body and the mind. But that’s not all! Pickleball involves strategy, focus, hand-eye coordination, decision-making skills, and quick thinking–all of which contribute to improved cognitive function. Picklers are healthier, happier, and smarter!
More picklers mean more ‘pickle hip’ and ‘paddle shoulder.’ Molly Douglass, a Doctor of Physical Therapy who is board-certified in both orthopedics and sports, notes, '‘because pickleball is often played as a fun game, many people don’t think about the need to warm up. The large movements of the upper body, twisting of the spine, and fast, multi-directional movements of the lower body will result in strains and sprains, and potentially falls if people do not warm up appropriately".
These dynamic moves will prime and prep your body for a winning and pain-free performance.
Lunge with a twist
The lunge prepares the hips, knees, and ankles, and the twist prepares the core and spine.
Step 1: Stand with feet together and lunge forward with the right leg.
Step 2: Twist the upper body to the left, then the right, and return to facing forward.
Step 3: Step the right leg back and repeat with the left leg. Repeat five times on each side.
Lunge to the side
The lunge to the side prepares the lower body for the side-to-side movements.
Step 1: Stand with your feet together and take a big step to the left.
Step 2: Bend your knees and push hips back into a squat position.
Step 3: Return to feet together. Repeat three to five times for each side.
Inchworms prepare the upper body, from the shoulders to the elbows and wrists, activate the core, and provide a dynamic stretch to the hamstring and calf muscles.
Step 1: Start in a push-up position.
Step 2: Slowly inch your feet forward with little steps; keep knees and elbows straight. Your hips will lift as you go.
Step 3: When you’ve stepped your feet as far forwards as you can, begin to walk your hands forward until you’re back in the push-up position.
Step 4: Repeat this sequence, three to five times. Note, you can move forward or backwards.
Leg swings are like pre-game love for your hips. Plus, they give you the chance to work on balance, which could decrease your risk of falling.
Step 1: Find a wall, chair, or person to hold onto if needed.
Step 2: Lift one leg and swing forward and backward like a pendulum, then side to side.
Step 3: Repeat five times before switching sides.
Arm circles are a simple way to warm up the shoulders, chest, and upper body before your winning match.
Step 1: Begin by standing with your feet together, arms extended out to the side with elbows fully extended.
Step 2: Draw large circles in the air, then move to smaller circles. Then reverse movement.
Some light jogging, and some jumping jacks to finish. You are ready to play pickleball!
Pre-gaming optimizes picklers ability to perform and therefore reduce injury risk by warming up muscles and joints. The post-play pickler routine will minimize your risk of overuse injury, especially of the lower back, shoulders, hips, and knees.
A combination of stretching and foam rolling, with thoughtful choices for hydration, nutrition and sleep, means you’ll be excited to return to the court in a day or two.