Volleyball is a fast-paced game with many aspects that leave players susceptible to injury. Common injuries sustained in volleyball include ankle sprains, knee and shoulder overuse injuries, and finger sprains. Due to the speed, jumping, and landing seen in volleyball, ankle sprains are the most common acute injury sustained, while blocking, serving, and spiking can lead to overuse of the shoulder and finger injuries.
Ankle sprains are very common in volleyball due to the repetitive jumping and risk of landing on other players feet, especially at net play. Treatment of sprains includes POLICE: protect, optimal load, ice, compression, and elevation. Physical therapists or athletic trainers can help in the recovery by working on motion and strength for optimal load. Rehabilitation of the ankle is important to reduce the risk of re-injury.
The repetitive nature of spiking and serving can lead to an overuse injury called rotator cuff tendinitis, resulting in pain or fatigue with use. Complete tears of the rotator cuff are not common in young athletes, but it is important to address the shoulder injuries early to prevent worsening damage. Treatment includes rest and strengthening the rotator cuff and surrounding muscles.
Blocking, spiking, and setting leaves player’s fingers susceptible to injuries such as dislocations, tendon/ligament injuries and even fractures. “Jamming” your finger typically results in a finger sprain and should heal within a few weeks. Using buddy tape to hold the finger steady and working on gentle ROM with instruction from your provider can help improve recovery. If you are unable to bend the finger or significant pain/bruising is present, it is crucial to be evaluated by a health care provider or your athletic trainer to rule out a fracture.
Patellar Tendinopathy is common in athletes that do repetitive jumping. The pain players experience in the knee is due to degeneration of the tendon that connects the kneecap to your shin bone or tibia. Treatment includes patellar tendon straps, rehabilitation and decreasing workload. Another helpful modality includes working on landing techniques to decrease stress on the tendon.
How to prevent injuries
The key to preventing all types of injuries begins prior to even playing the game. It is key to make sure you are warming up properly, using primarily dynamic techniques. If you have a history of injury, incorporate rehabilitation exercises into your warm up to help prevent re-injury. Another important aspect is training muscles properly to provide support your body needs. This includes building up your stabilizing muscles, including your core, lower back, legs and shoulders. Training also includes practicing proper technique and form for your sport. Lastly, allow your body to heal properly from former injuries. Returning to sports too soon after an injury can leave you susceptible to repeat or worse injuries.
- Briner W, Gallo R. Volleyball Injuries – Sports Medicine Program – UR Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center – Rochester, NY. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/orthopaedics/sports-medicine/volleyball-injuries.cfm. Accessed October 25, 2019.
- Eerkes K. Volleyball Injuries. Current Sports Medicine Reports: September/October 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 5 – p 251-256. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3182699037. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2012/09000/Volleyball_Injuries.10.aspx. Accessed November 12, 2019
- Harvard Health Publishing. Rotator Cuff Injury. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/rotator-cuff-injury-a-to-z. Accessed October 25, 2019.
- Volleyball Injury Prevention – OrthoInfo – AAOS. OrthoInfo. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/volleyball-injury-prevention. Accessed November 12, 2019.
By Madison Abrahams and Alee Vladyka
Volleyball Injury Prevention Handout created by Claire Johnson