Talking about great summer-time sports wouldn’t be complete if we left out volleyball. All it takes is a ball, a net and poles, a flat surface and some willing players and, voila! You got a game goin’ on!
Whether you’re an occasional backyard BBQ player or an avid beach or sand volleyball competitor, there are things you can do to avoid injury. If you do get injured, there are some steps you can take to prevent your injury from becoming a chronic problem.
Volleyball injuries can occur virtually from head to toe, and the type of surface you play on can cause different injuries in different parts of the body.
The most common injury associated with playing in sand is called – appropriately enough – “sand toe,” and is caused by forced plantar flexion of the foot. Sand toe aside, lower body injuries tend to occur less frequently in sand, and it is a more forgiving surface than hard flooring.
Other common injuries of the lower body are “jumper’s knee,” calf and hamstring pulls or strains, as well as groin and ankle injuries. While some of these injuries are more commonly seen in people who play regularly and are attributed to overuse, any of these pulls, strains and sprains can happen to people who only play occasionally or seasonally.
Upper body discomfort and injuries usually occur in the shoulders, neck, fingers and thumbs. Rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, and impingement can really put a crimp in your game. These – – and the other injuries mentioned – can all be prevented or reduced if you include some simple behaviors into your pre- and post game routines.
Of course, a routine that combines both strengthening and stretching is vital to improved athletic performance in any sport. With volleyball, as with other sports and activities, certain muscle groups are used more than others and, therefore, become stronger.
But, with that increased strength comes muscular imbalance. Take the shoulders, for example. For most of the time you spend on the volleyball court, your arms are outstretched overhead and you are using your shoulders to drive the ball in a forward motion. This repetitive action causes the increased musculature of the frontal shoulders to pull the shoulder forward and create an imbalance, resulting in discomfort and impeded mobility.
When shoulder and rotator cuff injuries occur, it may be necessary to discontinue play for a period of time to give that body part time to recuperate. Ice is also an important component of treatment and therapy.