The pickleball attraction | Health Beat

A manageable track size and relatively lightweight equipment have made pickleball popular with the 50-and-older crowd. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

There are many reasons why pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States.

Most important among them, this combination of ping pong, badminton, Wiffle ball and tennis is well suited to people who are doing their best to ensure their joints and muscles can stand the test of time.

Sports medicine experts at Spectrum Health share their Top 4 Reasons Why the Sport Is Popular, Especially Among the Over-50s.

1. Manageable Job Size

A pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. Compare that to a singles tennis court, which is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide, and you’ll realize that you have significantly less ground to cover during a game of pickleball.

“Tennis, especially singles, is becoming too much for people with bad knees or hips. It’s just too much running,” says Phillip Adler, PhD, a certified athletic trainer and manager of athletic training for Spectrum Health Sports Medicine.

“Pickleball is still fast and you still have to move fast and side-by-side,” he said. “There just isn’t that much ground to cover.”

2. Lightweight paddle

A pickleball paddle weighs about 7 ounces, making it 30% lighter than the average tennis racket.

Unlike tennis, players serve and play most shots underhanded, meaning it’s not that hard on your shoulders, especially your rotator cuff, said Dr. Adler.

3. Moves your muscles

Biceps and triceps help serve and hit the ball. Moving across the court activates your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves and other leg muscles.

But that is not everything.

Bending over to hit a shot works your lower back. Leaning forward and twisting improves your core strength. Kicking backwards and side-by-side movements work the leg muscles. By gripping the paddle, you train your hand muscles. And there are the cardiovascular benefits if your heart responds to all those movements.

“You could probably go ahead and emphasize how just about any muscle can be used in a game of pickleball,” said Dr. Adler.

4. Feels good

The sport has been around since the 1960s — and may or may not be named after one of its inventors’ dog — but it’s growing in part because the rules aren’t complicated, equipment isn’t expensive, and the game offers plenty of options. interaction between players.

“The field is small, so it’s easy to have a conversation with your doubles partner or opponent,” said Dr. Adler. “The exercise will definitely make you feel good, and the social interaction can give you an extra boost.”

Be careful

If you’re in pain, don’t try to play through it. Talk to a medical professional.

“Doctors don’t want to stop older people from participating in activities,” says sports medicine physician Matt Axtman of Spectrum Health, DO. “We just want to make sure they recognize injuries early so they can be properly evaluated and treated. If they don’t, an injury could worsen or worsen and keep them out of the game even longer.”