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‘Stretch AFTER too’ and other overlooked, body-saving pickleball tips

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s a sport surging in popularity so quickly that some have asked if it’s becoming “too popular.”

Generally, though, pickleball can be great fun and great exercise. Still, it carries some health risks if you’re not careful. How can you minimize those while maximizing the upside?

Dee Chambers, an athletic trainer with WellSpan Sports Medicine — speaking on a hot Friday morning alongside a court full of mostly-retired White Rose Pickleball Association players — said the heat makes certain safety tips particularly important, although others matter equally in all weather. Among them:

  • Stretch well — not just before (in motion, using forward and side-to-side “lunges,” simulating on-the-court-type movements — but also after you finish playing for the day. Chambers said people tend to overlook the stretches after, in particularly — they’re tired and just want to rest — but those (which can be more “static” stretches than the before ones) are just as important to prevent injuries.

  • Stay hydrated. That means drinking before, during and after you play — and it means drinking water as well as sports drinks. Pick whichever brand you like — Gatorade, Powerade or another — but Chambers said the drinks’ sales pitches aren’t just hype. They really have the electrolytes you hear about in the ads, she said, and those electrolytes really do help you.

  • Apply sunscreen and — another part people tend to overlook — reapply it after about an hour and a half, Chambers said. Sweat — and wiping off that sweat with towels — tends to limit how long even high-SPF sunscreen lasts.

  • Wear the right shoes. Chambers said those can be specific pickleball shoes or other “court shoes” optimized for side-to-side motion common when playing pickleball, as well as sports like tennis, raquetball and paddleball.

“If you have shoes too old, or the wrong fit shoe, you could end up with arch pains. You could end up with shin splints, knee pains — those types of things that could end up really ruining a pickleball season,” Chambers said.

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