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Pickleball has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years and participation in this low-impact sport only continues to grow. Players of all ages and abilities are stepping on the court and working on their skills. And just like any sport, their performance can depend on how well they care for their bodies — especially their joints and spine.

“Optimal spinal and joint movement is important for sports performance as it allows us to move our bodies in all directions and planes of motion while playing the game,” says Brett Hunt, DC, licensed chiropractor at LifeClinic in Atlanta, Ga. “If a joint in the spine or pelvic region is misaligned, it can cause pain and limit the ability to turn, rotate, bend, or extend to perform a specific movement and even cause injury.”

Common Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball requires mobility: quick movements to reach the ball, fast pivots to get to the other side of the court, twisting your arms and upper body to hit the right shot. Misaligned joints, Hunt explains, can limit your mobility and eventually lead to injuries, including these:

  • Knee injuries from swift stops, starts, or pivots.
  • Wrist injuries from turning the paddle.
  • Plantar fasciitis from striking your feet on hard surfaces.
  • Sprains or strains from quick body movements.

“Chiropractic adjustments are not limited to the spine,” Hunt says. “Any joint in the body can be misaligned and therefore be adjusted by a practitioner for better range of motion. For example, shoulder mobility is especially important for athletes who play pickleball, tennis, or baseball.”

Understanding Muscle Imbalances

For sports like pickleball that call on several muscle groups and joints throughout the body, muscle imbalances can often be the root cause for chronic injuries or pain because certain muscles are naturally tighter or overactive.

“Because your joints are connected by muscles and tendons, it’s just as important to treat these areas as well,” Hunt says. “A chiropractor can show you stretches and exercises to help lengthen and strengthen your muscles and prevent imbalances — depending on the issues you’re experiencing — for less pain and more optimal performance on the court.”

How Often Should I See a Chiropractor?

The recommended cadence of care for a pickleball athlete depends on the individual. Hunt recommends maintenance care for all athletes, whether they have injuries or not.

“Athletes are constantly putting stress on their bodies,” he explains. “Over time, that physical stress can cause dysfunctional patterns, which can eventually lead to pain and injury. Seeing a chiropractor one to two times per month can help perform at your optimal potential. Your practitioner can help you decide on a visit schedule best suited for you.

“For acute injuries, early phases of treatment may involve two to three sessions per week for a few weeks,” Hunt adds. “This frequency allows for more permanent changes within the soft tissue and longer lasting effects on the integrity of the joint. Over the course of a typical care plan, your visit frequency will decrease to once per week and usually down to one to two times per month for maintenance care.”

Learn more: “How Can a Chiropractor Help Me Reach My Fitness Goals?

If you’re interested in working with a LifeClinic chiropractor, you can learn more and request an appointment here.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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