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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fix Your Back Pain...and Your Game

Back pain is youth leaving the body...

I was drilling on dinks several weeks ago when my back started to tighten up. A friend who often gives me advice told me I was bending from the waist. Instead, I needed to get lower in my stance while keeping my head up. Another friend commented that the proper position would be felt with soreness in my legs and glutes. To make a long story short, I needed to lower my butt.

A couple of experts have some similar advice. Let's start with Sarah Ansboury and the RV Picklers in the article Pickleball Posture: Oh My Aching Back! Here is an excerpt:

I see poor pickleball postures at many levels of play. Often people crouch over, making themselves seem smaller. This is really bad for your body, putting stress on your back, hips, hamstrings, quads and more. Not only is bending at your back bad for your body, but it affects your ability to play at your best.
1. Often when people bend their back they rest their arms to close to their body. You want your arms relaxed but in front of your body.2. Bending your back disengages your core, making it more difficult rotate your hips and shoulders.3. When our back is compressed we tend to pull our weight forward with our upper body, leading with our heads causing all sorts of balance issues.4. Finally, when we bend at the back we tend to feel a little “heavier” causing us to shuffle with a jerking motion rather than making fluid steps. Have you every heard someone say, “lift with your knees, not your back”. There is a good reason, these sharp shuffling motions place a lot of strain on your knees as well!
Proper Pickleball Posture
I imagine myself sitting on an exercise ball or maybe riding a horse. My back is more upright and I only bend at the knees and hip-joint. This places your weight in your lower body, allowing you to extend more and stay balanced. I mentioned before, I like to think about taking up as much space as I can. I want to feel as tall as I can.
Imagine holding a towel on either side. Now imagine folding the towel. This is what your body does when you bend your back. Now imagine twisting the towel from top to bottom. This is how your body rotates when your back is more upright and your knees are flexed.
This position allows your to keep your paddle out and away from your body. You engage your larger, shoulder muscles. You maintain a more balanced position allowing you to rotate, accelerate or change directions quickly but without jerking.
When we put our bodies in the correct position to start, we are more prepared for the ball we anticipate and hit better shots. Good preparation is essential for a solid finish after each stroke. Think about your pickleball posture. You’ll play better and perhaps avoid some injuries as well.

Deb Harrison's video Posture and Paddle Control says a lot of the same thing as she emphasizes "head up, butt down, flexed knees, chest up".

Below are couple of images showing the right and wrong postures for dinking.

The Right way!

The wrong way!
I'm still working on it but it does help my back.


  1. If you continue to have back back talk to your doctor about an inversion table. It worked for me and it only takes a couple of minutes a day to use. If you're interested in learning more you can find info here

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