Truckee, California: Pickleball Stretch for Success

If you’ve been playing at Truckee Rec lately, you may have noticed some pretzels on the side of the court. But not the kind you eat, instead you’ll probably notice several of Tahoe’s best players folded up, stretching between games. One of my favorite pretzels to see, Mike H., has recently been singing the praises of our resident yogi Kerry and some awesome stretches she convinced him to try.

So last week, I reached out to Kerry to ask her about some of her secrets to stretching and here’s what she had to say…and don’t miss the end of the interview where she shares the one stretch that she thinks every pickleball player would benefit from:

So Kerry, how long have you been dedicated to stretching/yoga?

I have always known stretching was important, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago that I truly caught the yoga bug and soon after worked to become a certified yoga instructor.

How do you think Yoga has helped your pickleball game?

First and foremost, it helps me prevent injuries and recover faster. Stretching between and after helps loosen me up and keeps my muscles warm and flexible.

Well, you were probably always flexible, what if I’m too inflexible to stretch?

Trust me, I wasn’t always flexible. We all start from somewhere, but it was my commitment to stretching regularly that made me flexible.

And yes, it’s funny how often I hear, “I know I should stretch, but I’m not flexible enough,” to which I respond, “That’s like saying you have cavities, but you’re not going to go to the dentist.”

EveryBODY can stretch!!!

OK, OK, so nobody is too inflexible to stretch…how should I get started?

If you are going to start stretching, which I really hope to see everybody doing between games, I would suggest starting simply. Commit to one stretch every time you’re between games and then add on as stretching becomes a successful habit.

If I started with ONE stretch, which would you recommend?

That’s easy! It’s the figure-4 stretch and it’s one of Mike’s favorites. It’s great for strengthening the quadriceps, toning the core, stretching the outer hips and glutes, relieving lower back tension, and, if you try the balance version, it’s also great for concentration and focus.

Additionally, it has variations for people of any age and flexibility. Let me take you through the stretch and the variations for everyBODY below:

The Figure-4 Stretch

Below I’ve listed out variations that increase in intensity. Start with the first option and work your way down the list as the stretches become too easy.

Click on each picture if you would like to see the pose better.

As with all stretches, here are my first rules of stretching:

  • Always listen to your body.
  • Move into the stretch slowly.
  • You will feel tension (the stretch), but you should NEVER feel pain. STOP if you feel any sharp pain.
  • Use props (chairs, tables, etc.) to help you make the stretch work for you.
  • Stretching is not a competition, remember that you’re between games ; )

Sitting Option

  • Sit at the front edge of the seat.
  • Cross one leg over the other, placing your ankle over your knee.
  • Gently press the bent knee down toward the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds while you breathe.
  • Repeat by switching legs.

     

    Standing Behind Block

    • Stand behind a block, chair or table that is hip high.
    • Lift one leg, bend the knee and rest it on the support block/chair.
    • Hold for 5–8 breaths.
    • Repeat on the other side.

    Squatting Behind Chair

    • Hold onto the back of a chair while waiting to play pickleball at the gym.
    • Place your right ankle over your left knee.
    • Squat.
    • Hold for 5–8 breaths.
    • Repeat on the other side.

    Lying on Back

    • Lie on your back and place your right heel over your left knee in a figure 4 position.  
    • Flex the top (right) foot.  
    • Reach behind your left thigh and interlace your fingers.  (If this isn’t possible, use a strap behind the left thigh and hold with both hands. )
    • Keep your head on the ground with the chin slightly pointing down toward the chest.
    • Hold for 5-8 breaths.  
    • Repeat on the other side. 

    Single Leg Squat and Balance

    • Test your balance with this pose.
    • Stand with a chair or wall in front of you for support.
    • Stand tall and cross your right ankle over your left knee.
    • Place your hands at your chest.
    • Slowly begin to squat.
    • Hold for 3–5 breaths.
    • Rise up slowly.
    • Repeat on the other side.

    If you want to learn more about Kerry and/or to see when and where she teaches, check out her personal blog 

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