The large amount of jumping and sudden movement can lead to some traumatic injuries. The repetitive nature of the game can also lead to chronic injuries in the shoulders and legs. Volleyball’s popularity worldwide has increased the incidence of injury from volleyball, but many injuries are due in part to lack of, or improper, training. Volleyball has a pretty even incidence of injuries to the upper and lower body. The overhead movements and jumping required put stress on both parts equally. Volleyball injuries include rotator cuff injuries, suprascapular neuropathy, wrist sprains, thumb sprains, and patella tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee).
Common Volleyball Injuries
- Rotator Cuff Injuries: The
rotator cuff muscles, which include the infraspinatus, teres minor, and
supraspinatus, are placed under a good deal of strain when the arms are raised
above the head. The strain increases when a load is placed on the shoulder,
such as blocking a shot, spiking a ball, or serving the ball. The injury to the
rotator cuff may be acute, due to a traumatic force impacting the shoulder and
causing a tear in the muscles. It may also be chronic in nature, due to
continued overuse and stress causing a build up of inflammation.
- Suprascapular Neuropathy: This chronic injury is also caused by the prolonged, and
repetitive, overhead position in the game of volleyball. This position is
believed to put pressure on the nerve that runs over the top of the shoulder
blade. This pressure leads to inflammation and additional pressure, which
reduces the ability of the nerve to transmit signals.
- Wrist Sprain: The
wrist is a small structure and the force of a ball being struck downward can
cause the ligaments to stretch and tear. Falling onto an outstretched hand can
also cause damage to the ligaments of the wrist. When the wrist is hyper
extended or hyper flexed the ligaments become stretched and torn.
- Thumb Sprain: The
metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb is the area of injury most common in
volleyball. As the ball contacts the hand it can force the thumb backward
causing a stretching or tearing of the ligament over this joint. An awkward
striking of the ball can also cause this injury.
- Patella Tendonitis (Jumper’s
Knee): The repetitive jumping motion in volleyball causes a lot of stress to
the tendon that runs from the patella to the tibia. A complete rupture can
occur if a chronic injury is allowed to linger, or if excessive stress is
placed on the tendon while jumping or landing. Chronic injury to the tendon
includes repetitive inflammation in the tendon that continues to build up.
Injury Prevention Strategies
- A good conditioning program with equal components of strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, and stretching exercises will ensure the player is ready for the rigors of competitive volleyball play.
- Wearing proper footwear with good support and cushioning will also help keep the joints healthy for continued play.
- A strong core and good base will reduce the chances that the player will develop lower body injuries.
- A good stretching program will ensure the muscles are flexible enough to meet the demands of competitive play. It will also help keep the muscles from becoming tight and stiff, reducing chronic injuries.
3 Volleyball Stretches
- Arm-up Rotator Stretch: Stand with your arm out and your forearm pointing upwards at 90 degrees. Place a broom stick in your hand and behind your elbow. With your other hand pull the bottom of the broom stick forward.
- Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.
- Kneeling Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.