Is Pickleball Bad For Your Back? My Experience

It is a common question that is asked both by pickleball enthusiasts and first-time players: is pickleball bad for your back? While it is true that lower back pain is unfortunately prevalent in all forms of physical activity, the answer to this is more complex than a simple yes or no.

There are many different factors that could lead to back pain after playing pickleball, with improper form and/or technique being chief among them.

If you practice mindful body motions while also listening to your own body’s signals, you can avoid potential injury and rest assured that pickleball is most likely not bad for your back—in fact, it is quite beneficial!

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Is Pickleball Bad For Your Back?

If you are an older player, then it is important to take extra care of your spinal health while playing. The game is both a physical and mental challenge as there is a lot of twist and turns, mobility, and precision skills needed to perform well in the game.

With that being said, the level of motion involved with playing pickleball is quite significant. Cutting corners is something you don’t want to do when playing this sport as it can lead to injury.

There is a lot of spinal rotations, bending and even jumping! All these movements mean that you have to be careful about not over exerting yourself otherwise it could result in an injury or back pain for some people.

Is Pickleball Bad For Your Back?

Reasons for Lower Back Pain after Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is a popular racquet sport that is enjoyed by people of all ages. While it can be a fun and enjoyable form of exercise, it is not uncommon for players to experience lower back pain after playing. 

There are several reasons why this may occur, and understanding these causes can help players prevent and manage back pain while playing.

Excessive Movements

One of the main causes of lower back pain in pickleball players is excessive movements. This includes side-to-side movements, rotations of the spine, bending, jumping, and similar activities, all of which are done with the lower extremity of the body. 

These movements can place a lot of stress on the lower back muscles and joints, leading to discomfort and pain.

Dinking Movement

Another cause of lower back pain in pickleball players is the dinking movement. This is a shot that is commonly used in the game and involves a light, quick hit with the racquet. While dinking can be a useful shot in certain situations, it is important not to overuse it as it can lead to lower back pain. 

This is because the dink shot requires players to stay low constantly, which can have a negative impact on the spinal cord.

Impairment of the Lower Spine

In addition to these movements, impairment of the lower spine can also lead to lower back pain in pickleball players. This occurs when players bend at the spine level, rather than using their legs, to reach for the ball. 

This can place excessive stress on the lower back muscles and joints, leading to discomfort and pain.

How to Reduce Lower Back Pain While Playing Pickleball?

Now, I will discuss some simple steps you can take to reduce lower back pain while playing pickleball.

Stop Bending 

First and foremost, it is important to stop bending over when playing pickleball. This may seem counterintuitive, as bending is a natural motion when hitting the ball. 

However, constantly bending over can put a lot of strain on your lower back muscles, leading to pain and discomfort. 

Instead, try to maintain a straight posture and use your legs to move around the court. This will help to reduce the strain on your lower back and prevent pain from occurring.

Warm-up Exercises

Another important tip is to do proper warm-up exercises before playing pickleball. These exercises should focus on stretching and activating your lower back muscles, as well as your core muscles. 

This will help to loosen up your muscles and prepare them for the demands of the game. Some simple warm-up exercises you can try include leg swings, reverse lunges, and plank variations.

In addition to these tips, it is also important to pay attention to your technique while playing pickleball. Make sure to use proper footwork and body positioning to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your lower back. 

It is also a good idea to take breaks and rest between games to allow your muscles to recover and prevent fatigue.

Finally, it is essential to listen to your body and take care of any lower back pain that does occur. If you are experiencing pain, try using ice or heat to reduce inflammation, or try stretching and strengthening exercises to help alleviate the pain. 

Remember to always consult with a medical professional if the pain persists or becomes severe.

Back Exercises for Pickleball

Pickleball also requires a strong and stable back, as it is constantly in motion during play.

Here are some great back exercises to improve your pickleball game:

The Plank:

The plank is a simple yet effective exercise that targets the core, shoulders, and back muscles. To perform the plank, get into a push-up position and hold your body straight and rigid, keeping your feet hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart. 

Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, and gradually increase the time as you get stronger.

The Superman: 

The superman targets the lower back muscles, which are crucial for maintaining good posture during pickleball play. To perform the superman, lie face down on a mat with your arms and legs extended. 

Lift your chest, arms, and legs off the ground as high as you can, holding for a few seconds before lowering back down. Repeat this movement for 10-15 reps.

The Russian Twist: 

The Russian twist is a great exercise for strengthening the oblique muscles, which are important for lateral movement and rotation during pickleball play. To perform the Russian twist, sit on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. 

Hold a weight or a medicine ball in front of your chest with both hands. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, and twist your torso to the right and left, alternating sides. Do 10-15 reps on each side.

The Deadlift: 

The deadlift is a compound exercise that targets the entire back, as well as the legs and glutes. To perform the deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands grasping a barbell or dumbbells. 

Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight as you lift the weight off the ground, squeezing your glutes and driving through your heels. Lower the weight back down, maintaining control and avoiding rounding your back. Do 10-15 reps with a moderate weight.

Incorporating these exercises into your regular workout routine will not only improve your pickleball game, but also help to prevent injuries and improve overall back health. 

Remember to always consult with a fitness professional or doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Back Brace For Pickleball

Pickleball is a relatively low-impact sport, it can still lead to back pain and injuries, especially for those who are older or have pre-existing back issues. That is where a back brace for pickleball can come in handy.

A back brace is a device that is worn around the lower back to support and stabilize the spine. It helps to reduce strain on the back muscles and ligaments and can prevent injuries such as strains, sprains, and herniated discs. 

A back brace for pickleball can be especially useful for those who play the sport regularly and may be prone to back pain or discomfort.

There are several different types of back braces available for pickleball players, including elastic, neoprene, and rigid braces. Elastic braces are made of stretchy material and provide a low level of support. 

They are best for mild back pain and are often used for preventative measures. Neoprene braces are made of a breathable, moisture-wicking material and provide a moderate level of support. 

They are ideal for moderate back pain and can also be worn for prevention. Rigid braces are made of hard plastic and provide a high level of support. They are recommended for severe back pain and injuries and should only be worn under the guidance of a medical professional.

When choosing a back brace for pickleball, it is important to consider the level of support needed, as well as the fit and comfort of the brace. 

The brace should be snug but not too tight, and it should allow for full range of motion. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and to consult a medical professional if you have any concerns or questions.

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Tyson Moore
Tyson Moore
Hello, my name is Tyson Moore and I am a professional pickleball player. After many years of playing the game, I have started to do some depth research and testing related to pickleball. I have also interviewed many experts in the field. You can check my latest findings on my blog. I hope you find my information helpful. Thanks for reading!