How Pickleball Helps Manage Arthritis

February 25, 2024

Arthritis patients often have days when they do not even want to move at all, let alone try to get out and deal with some kind of high impact workout to keep their joints strong and flexible. However, activity is important or they can get stiff, increasing inflammation and pain. Many individuals, including those with painful joint troubles, are finding joy in a sport called pickleball. A blend of tennis, ping-pong, badminton, and a hint of wiffleball, pickleball provides a great activity that requires movement that can help arthritis patients get and stay in shape.

Eases Joint Pain

Many individuals have heard exercise can reduce pain in certain conditions. The same is true for the joint pain from arthritis. However, many high-intensity exercises, such as running, are not the best choice for individuals who suffer from the pain and stiffness of arthritis and similar conditions. Pickleball, however, provides individuals with a great way to increase the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals produced by the brain, to help shift how their body responds to pain signals.

The chemicals released during exercise can also help individuals sleep better, which in turn will help them manage pain better. Additionally, the walking or gentle bouncing movements and swinging of the arms during pickleball requires players to move their joints. Using joints helps the lubricating synovial fluid in the joints keep moving, which eases joint pain both when arthritis is present and when it is not.

Improves Balance And Agility

When joints hurt, muscles and connective tissues can become weak and stiff. This can increase the risk of falling or becoming injured from overuse. Exercise is an important way to keep the body working the way it should, particularly when a condition like arthritis is present. Pickleball allows players to move back and forth at their own pace, strengthening the muscles around their joints, such as the hips and knees, so it improves balance and agility that can easily become lost due to inactivity and arthritis.

Promotes Healthy Blood Flow

When individuals are inactive, blood does not flow through the body at the rate it should. Good blood flow is necessary to take healing nutrients to joints damaged by arthritis. The blood also needs to keep moving to draw toxins and impurities out of the joints so they may be removed by normal body functions. One way to get the blood moving freely is for individuals to engage in activities that increase their heart rate. Not only does the blood flow more quickly when the heart is beating faster, but cardiovascular exercise makes the heart stronger, allowing it to push a greater volume of blood with each heartbeat even while individuals are at rest. As a good weight-bearing and cardio activity, pickleball promotes healthy blood flow.

Acts As A Low-Impact Exercise

Although cardiovascular activities are important to keep joints and surrounding tissues strong and flexible, too much can be damaging. When individuals have arthritis, the best way to keep limber is to avoid high-impact aerobic activity, such as running, jumping, and other high-energy activities that can strain or injure their already sensitive joints. Pickleball is considered a low-impact sport, and does not require a lot of jumping and bouncing that could increase inflammation and pain in the joints. Because pickleball acts as a low-impact exercise, it is no wonder that seniors and individuals with arthritis or other health problems are embracing it as a good way to get the physical activity they need.

Increases Flexibility

While stretching is one of the most common ways for individuals to increase their flexibility, it can be difficult to push through static or boring stretching sessions. When individuals play pickleball, on the other hand, they often do not even notice how their muscles are getting the stretch they need as it increases flexibility in many joints. The hands, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and ankles are used naturally as a part of the game. Players get an increased stretch as they reach and move to try and connect with the ball, providing them with increased flexibility they do not have to focus on. Since joint stiffness is a particular issue for arthritis patients, anything that can help them safely maintain and even increase their flexibility, like playing pickleball, is crucial.

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