Volleyball was invented in 1895 and has progressed and changed since then to become the second most popular sport in the world. Volleyball is such a dynamic and unique sport due to its ability to be played outdoors as well as indoors, played leisurely and competitively and played by men and women of all ages.
As the sport has become more competitive over the years, with higher nets and more sets played, it’s not uncommon that there has also been an increase in the number of injuries that have been reported. Luckily, many of the injuries can be prevented through preparation, prevention, and practicing proper mechanics.
Below we will discuss common volleyball injuries and various prevention strategies to keep you on the floor playing.
Common Volleyball injuries
- Ankle Sprains: Ankle sprains are the most common injuries suffered by volleyball players. It is reported the risk of injury is the greatest within the first six months of a previous injury. Ankle injuries can occur when jumping, cutting, or when landing on someone’s foot.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome/Patellar tendonitis: Patellar tendon pain, likely identified as anterior knee pain, becomes irritated due to repetitive jumping that is commonly related to improper landing mechanics and muscle imbalances.
- Shoulder overuse/rotator cuff injuries: Shoulder girdle is exposed to extensive loads because of repetitive spiking and serving leading to increased risk of shoulder injuries and pain. Shoulder injuries are commonly a result of improper spiking mechanics, increased laxity of shoulder musculature, and decreased utilization of core strength.
- Wrist and hand injuries: Due to extensive hand and wrist involvement required when serving, spiking, setting, and blocking, they are at an increased risk of injury with finger and wrist sprains reported as the most common of injuries.
Injury prevention strategies
- Balance training: Balance training has been shown to reduce risk of lower extremity injuries including ankle sprains and knee ligament injuries. Static and dynamic balance activities should be integrated into all athletes’ weekly training routines due to the importance of balance on joint stability, core strength, and body proprioception (your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location).
- Landing mechanics: When landing players need to absorb shock to their lower body and back by bending their knees to nearly 90 degrees. Landing “soft” will improve shock absorption. It will be important to prevent knee valgus collapse (knees inside of feet) when landing in order to reduce risk of lower extremity injuries.
- Strength training: Is important before, during and after season play. Full body strength training should be performed in order to prevent injury as well as enhance power and strength during season play. Below are some possible muscle strengthening exercises to begin implementing into your training routine.
Gluteus medius strengthening
- Dynamic warm up: should be performed prior to playing and a cool down when done in order to enhance mobility and decrease risk of injuries.
- Rest and recovery
If you have any questions on how to develop a program either during the off-season or in-season for volleyball, to help keep you injury-free, please contact us for a FREE discovery visit.
Written By: Dr. Paige Pharr, PT, DPT & Former College Volleyball Player (pictured on top)