Getting ready to hit the beach and play volleyball this summer? Whether you play recreationally or aim to win, it’s a great way to get out and active. On top of that, volleyball is a relatively safe team sport, with 2.6 injuries per 1000 hours of training + play (compared to Netball’s 14). But low risk doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. So, to help you keep your joints safe and keep having fun on the sand, here are the most common volleyball injuries and how to avoid them.
Common injuries in volleyball
The ankle, knee, and shoulder are the most commonly injured joints in volleyball, with acute ankle sprains, patellar tendinopathy, and overuse shoulder injuries making up the bulk of the damage.
You can sprain your ankle when you land badly after a jump, twist too hard to block the ball, or have the misfortune of someone landing on your foot. As a result, you may get some swelling, redness, and pain around the area. You may also feel like your ankle is unstable when standing or walking on it. Middle blockers and outside attackers are most at risk, while setters and defence are at comparatively low risk.
Patellar tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee) is extremely common, affecting 40% of elite male volleyball players. It can develop if you’ve rapidly increased your training (especially jump training) or frequently train on a hard surface. This gnarly injury develops gradually. The tendon gets more and more microscopic damage, eventually leading to inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
A shoulder overuse injury like SICK scapula syndrome or rotator cuff tendonitis can also develop. In the former, repetitive overhead actions can cause muscle imbalances that make your shoulder blade stick out, not move as normal, or even be painful. In the latter (as with Jumper’s Knee), repetitive movements like spiking, passing, and blocking can gradually damage your rotator cuff tendons, leading to pain and inflammation.
First, get your blood pumping with a few warm-ups. You’ll kick-start oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscles, preparing them for the game ahead. Remember, the muscles are your joints’ essential line of defence. Protecting them from pulls and strains means they can do their job right. To that end, some classic warm-ups to try include:
- High knees
- Jumping jacks
- Shoulder rotations
- Calf raises
You can also warm up by running drills with your teammates: practice passing, spiking, and setting.
Work on your conditioning
Do your best to jump straight up when blocking, passing, spiking, etc, instead of sideways, forward, or backward. It’ll make for safer landings and limit your chances of jumping into your teammates.
Get your technique down
Technical training reduces the risk of injury. Essentially, the more you work through various techniques and drills with the help of your coach and teammates, the better your muscles can adapt to the demands of the game.
Similarly, if you’re new or new-ish to the sport, it’s a good idea to practice common volleyball skills slowly and gradually build up your speed. Slow motion practice will help your body build that essential muscle memory for fast-paced, instinctive, less-injury-prone play.
Sports Knee Support
Wearing a compression sports brace can also come in handy in injury prevention. Compression knit fabric has been shown to reduce muscle oscillation, boost circulation, and improve how efficiently you activate your muscles.
Our Sports Knee Support, for example, gently compresses the knee, activating key muscle groups and improving your proprioception (your awareness of how you move the joint).
The Sports Ankle Support also has these compression benefits, along with a figure 8 strap for external support and improved stability. Studies have found that ankle bracing can prevent acute ankle injuries and may even reduce the load on the knee, lowering the risk of tendinopathy. Learn more about the benefits of ankle supports and braces in volleyball.
Last but not least, the OmoTrain S can work wonders for the shoulder, supporting it through the repeated overhead shots and hard spikes the game demands.
First, work on your core. These muscles are vital in helping you maintain your balance on the court and power your spikes and passes. In fact, a weak core is one of the key risk factors in developing a shoulder overuse injury. So, add the following exercises into your training routine:
- Dead bugs
- Side planks
Second, build up your leg strength to create a solid support network for your patellar tendon. You can do so through exercises like:
- Sumo squats
Next, work on your shoulder’s support network.
- Resisted internal rotations
- Resisted external rotations
- Banded rows
- Lat pull-downs
And for the ankles, you can build strength through:
- Calf raises
- Single-leg balance
- Walking around on the sand
Take it easy
The thing about overuse injuries is that they happen when you use a certain joint too much. By extension, an excellent way to avoid them is by giving your joints enough of a break to recover.
Rest will also help your muscles time to heal and grow stronger. Experts usually recommend 24-48 hours of rest for a particular muscle group before working it again. In the meantime, feel free to cross-train other muscles!
Another critical element to this is GRADUALLY increasing your training and playtime. Experts generally recommend sticking to 10% a week - that could be 10% more weight in weight training, 10% more overall playtime, 10% more reps, etc. This gradual increase will help you refine your skills while giving your muscles time to adapt, reducing the risk of overloading them and the soft tissues they protect.
To sum up
Volleyball may be among the safer team sports, but you should still take precautions to avoid common injuries. Strengthening your muscles, warming up before play, practising your technique, getting enough rest, and wearing compression supports are great ways to protect yourself on the court and on the beach.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.