Pickleball mobility: Your best moves happen before your game

Pickleball, a funny name for the fastest growing sport for several years now.

My office at The Alaska Club East is near the area where we have our pickup pickleball games. The sounds are iconic – the paddle hitting the ball, the ball bouncing on the floor, the shoes squeaking. However, it's always more than these mechanical sounds. There are oohs, ahhs, "I got it", high fives and laughter, so much laughter.

Players are in love with the game of pickleball. It addresses so many needs – activity, easy to get started, ability to progress and get better, pure enjoyment of the experience, and social time, all play a role in the love of the game. When we combine movement with quality people connections, our sense of wellbeing and happiness skyrocket.

Unfortunately, that happiness can be negatively impacted when we incur an injury. The most common injuries in pickleball involve the ankles, knees, shoulders, back, elbows and wrists. That's pretty much the overall body, huh? The shoulders, elbows and wrist issues are usually on the paddle side, which makes sense as that's the arm that's reaching for the ball and swinging. It also means that unless we play equally with right and left, we are using one side of our body much more than the other. However, we can make these areas strong and ready with mobility exercises. Of course, the lower body issues are often related to quickly moving after having been still for a moment, lunging after a ball or making a quick shift in direction. These too can be reinforced with mobility movements.

Mobility is a buzz word and it's buzzing because it's so valuable to so many people. Mobility training includes movements designed to increase your range of motion and strengthen the muscles around each joint within that range of motion. When the muscles supporting these key joints are strong, the likelihood of injury decreases significantly.

I know, you just want to play pickleball. Like anything of value, taking time for maintenance or in this case, mobility, is so worth the time and effort. Mobility exercises make for a great warm up activity. Plan 15 to 20 minutes prior to play time. Make it social and get your fellow pickleballers to join you.

Mobility exercises can also be done at other times in your day. Maybe while you're watching a football game or your new favorite TV show. Here are some mobility exercises you can easily incorporate into your warmup or other times throughout the week:

Wrists. Slowly roll your wrists (right and left at the same time) rotating inward. After a few repetitions, roll outward the same number of repetitions. Move slowly and with control.

Ankles. Balance on one leg or hold onto the wall, slowly rotate your ankle making circles in one direction and repeat in the other direction. Change your stance on the other leg and repeat on your opposite ankle.

Hips. Balance on one leg (or hold on to the wall), with your knee bent at 90 degrees, circle your hip backward 3-5 times and then forward the same number of times. Slow and controlled.

Shoulders. Place your fingertips on the top of your shoulders (same hand on same shoulder). Circle backward 5 times slowly and then forward 5 times slowly. One arm at a time, circle the arm up, back, and around with just a small bend at the elbow 5 times. Repeat with a backward moving circle then repeat on the other arm.

If you want to learn more about mobility and how it will not only improve your pickleball skills but also your overall feeling of being strong and pain-free, please join us at The Alaska Club's Studio location at Jewel Lake in Anchorage for Hot Mobility, Wednesdays at 7 am. Visit http://www.wellnessliving.com/schedule/studiohotyoga.

You can take up to three classes with us at no cost. You can also find a video with warmup exercises on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3TqqLzU.

Let's keep those ohs, ahhs, and laughs coming. You don't want to miss out on a minute of the fun so be sure to invest a few minutes in your mobility.

Janet Warner is The Alaska Club Executive Director of Fitness Services and a proud grandmother of three.

 
 
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