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Practice the 4 "P's" of pickleball to stay injury-free with tips from a Mayo Clinic expert

If you're thinking of joining the pickleball craze, a Mayo Clinic surgeon has tips to help you avoid injuries on the court. Viv Williams has details in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

Pickleball paddles on the floor of a court
Avoid injuries on the court by practicing the four "P's" of pickleball.
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ROCHESTER — Want a fun way to socialize and get some exercise at the same time? Grab a pickleball racquet and hit the court.

If you're not familiar with the game, it's sort of a combination of tennis, badminton and tennis. And it seems to be surging in popularity. The USA Pickleball website lists a bunch of statistics about the game, including that 2022 saw pickleball's 57th birthday and 4.8 million people play it.

You can enjoy pickleball no matter your skill level. But injuries can happen even when you're taking it slowly and gently on the court.

Dr. Sanj Kakar , a Mayo Clinic hand and wrist surgeon, says people should remember the four "P's" of pickleball to avoid hurting themselves.

No. 1: Proper stretching.

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"You have to have proper stretching," says Kakar. "When we get on the pickleball court, we think it's a smaller court. It's a slower sport. We don't have to stretch. And forget about hand and wrist injuries. We see so many Achilles tendon injuries. Proper stretching starts from the feet up. And that includes the lower extremities, the back, the neck and the upper extremities."

No. 2: You have to practice with a purpose. Avoid chronic overuse injuries by being mindful of swing and not repeating the same motion over and over again.

No. 3: Proper equipment.

"Do they have the appropriate paddle? Is the grip thick enough? asks Kakar. "As we get older, for example, when we pinch, that puts further areas of stress on the hand. And, so, when you're squeezing so hard, it can lead to increased pressure on the wrist."

No. 4: Proper mechanics.

"Probably most importantly, is proper mechanics," says Kakar. "The ball doesn't bounce as high. The motion is actually more violent than, I would say, tennis."

If you're thinking about learning how to play pickleball or have already joined a group, be sure to practice the four "P's" to help you stay injury-free on the court.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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MORE HEALTH FUSION:
When arctic blasts plummet temperatures, stepping outside can be dangerous. In this Health Fusion episode, Viv Williams talks to a researcher about what intensely cold air could do to anyone's lungs.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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