Is Pickleball Bad for your Back? Precautions for Spine Stability

Pickleball is addictive…fun…healthy exercise…people call it! At the moment “healthy” can be an unsure word. Since the game has grown, many people have reported having back pain, injuries, and strain. Currently, we’ve seen players being extremely puzzled about “is pickleball bad for your back”. 

In fact, in our recent blogs about the health benefits of pickleball, we came across several questions similar to “why does my lower back hurt after pickleball”? It was enough to get us driven to conduct our survey and find out why people are having issues when it’s such a friendly sport. We found the main reason behind it that it is the wrong tactics of people, unnecessary bending, concrete surface, and taking the game overly easy.

Not just that, we discovered so many interesting and shocking facts about the game and how people play it, so here we’ve gathered our study (in plain English because we hate when medical things get real aesculapian). So, let us highlight the back pain-related issues along with some precautions and exercises for keeping pickleball as healthy as it is.

Can Pickleball Cause Lower Back Pain?

Technically, yes. Pickleball is very likely to cause lower back pain. Although it’s easy, it’s still a racket sport with the same risks as in tennis. The majority of players play pickleball for fun only. That means no coach and poor gear. Their tactics aren’t proper, because they just keep it simple like throwing the ball on the other side and receiving it back. And pickleball isn’t this simple. The most important shot of pickleball is the dink shot which requires a bent posture with the foot shoulder-width apart.

Can Pickleball Cause Lower Back Pain

A slightly low posture with side-to-side movement put your lower back unprotected which then gets hurt. It further gets worst when you’re using poor-quality paddles because it requires more effort for swinging and lifting. Whereas, vibrations and shock won’t mind radiating from the arm to the lumbar spine.

Mostly, it’s the issue with lower pack back is with the senior players. What to do? More than half of the pickleball players are aged above 55 years old. Even in that age group, people usually have lower back pain, and playing pickleball just intensifies it. Other than that, the excessive play also causes strain on the lower back muscles.

Why does my Lower Back Hurt after Pickleball?

Whether you play pickleball or not, if you’ve made half a century living on this earth, back pain will be inevitable. To some people, the pain is minor and can be easily adjusted. But when you involve in a sports activity, your muscles get in continuous movement and the tension causes strain. While in pickleball, your back is most involved after your wrist, and thus the pain in the lower back gets more and more visible. You can also have lower back pain if your muscles around the spine and ligaments are not strong enough.

Understanding Body Structure:

Body Structure

There’s no way you’re talking about health issues and neglecting medical language and perspective. First, understand the lower back structure to comprehend what they are and how vulnerable they get.

The lower is formed by 5 vertebrae. The most sensitive vertebra is the fifth one that’s placed by the sacrum and is connected to the coccyx. Sacrum and Coccyx are the bones. All these structures are surrounded by tissues, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles. This makes vertebra systems and these systems have fibrocartilagenous discs that interconnect all the vertebrae system. Fibrocartilagenous means the structure of fiber and cartilage. 

Now, when pressure puts on your lower back, the fibers get damaged and cause strain. If steps aren’t taken on time, this can become a dangerous injury. 

Pickleball Movement Affects on the body:

Pickleball has side-to-side movements, continuous jumping, and bending posture for dinks, spinal movements which directly affect the lumbar spine (lower back) and cause strain and injuries. While these movements are crucial, there’s a certain way of doing it, like any other sports or fitness activity. You need to be careful when you’re messing with your muscles and putting them to work. They’re not like corporate employees who can work overtime with no consequence. Your muscles get tired and stressed, and sometimes injured too, if you play for extended hours with repetitive dink motions. 

Pickleball Court Structure:

Concrete surfaces are bad for your back and shoulder. If you’re standing on the court for too long or making contact with these harder surfaces, you’ll have aches in your joints and likewise, your back will suffer. This is because you’ll run and stop, causing the joints to have random movements, and then, you’ll have strain. 

Types of Lower back pain:

Lower back pain is of two types: extrinsic and intrinsic. Intrinsic pain is severe and more harmful than extrinsic one. It includes infection, tumors, scoliosis, osteoarthritis, and other renal pain. Intrinsic pain happens due to internal problems and other health-related issues. Contrarily, 

Extrinsic pain is the strain and external aches on the lower back that causes due to tension in the back and effort-requiring physical activity. Pickleball causes extrinsic pain in the lower back which can be cured by consulting a physiotherapist, massage, or medication. 

  • Biomechanical Disadvantages in the Lower Spine:

If safety measures aren’t taken, you’ll bear the biomechanical disadvantages in the lower spine. The disadvantages result in muscle strains, ligament sprains, facet joint dysfunctions, disc bulges, disc herniations, and compression fractures–as stated by the USAPA. If you suffer from any of these, immediately consult a Physical Therapist because these may not have a good upshot down the road. 

6 Tips for Preventing Lower Back Pain:

Pickleball does have some risks, but you can minimize them through some tips and the right tactics. 

  • First, correct your posture. When bending, don’t put stress on your back. Rather, bend your knees. This way you also maintain better stability.
  • Always do pickleball warm-up and cool-down exercises to keep the muscles relaxed.
  • Build your muscles and focus on your front core. Your muscles must be strong to bear the strain.
  • Don’t play pickleball for unnecessarily extended hours. Your body naturally doesn’t bear the consistent pressure and tension, that too with repetitive movements.
  • If you already have any shoulder or back injuries, consult a physiotherapist and get yourself prescribed paddles and balls.
  • Don’t play aggressively and bend down to return the groundstrokes.

That’s all Folks!

It’s all on the people, as far as it’s concerned. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. Meantime, treat pickleball as other sports. It’s an easier and low-effort racket sport, but that doesn’t mean it won’t put your body to work. Besides, pickleball can actually be very healthy if you correct your posture, follow the right bending motions, and be a little careful about your playing hours and gear. This way, the answer to the “Is pickleball bad for your back” can result in a solid “No”, and we believe the players can make it happen. 

Take care and stay healthy and safe!

Robby Anderson

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