Volleyball has a lower rate of injuries than competitive sports that involve contact or collision with other players. Still, a volleyball injury can develop from specific traumatic events as well as overuse.
In this article, I discuss some of the acute and overuse bone and joint injuries that volleyball players can suffer. Here are 5 of the most common injuries, in no particular order:
Volleyball injury #1 – Ankle sprains
Ankle sprains are the number one injury in many competitive sports. They occur in volleyball as well. You might land awkwardly from a jump, injuring the ligaments on the lateral (side away from the midline) side of the ankle.
If you suffer an acute ankle sprain, you most likely will need a period of rest from play, ice, elevation, a brace to stabilize the ankle, and physical therapy. Return to play can vary depending on the severity of the injury. You also need time to regain full motion, strength, and balance.
Volleyball injury #2 – Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
Female athletes have a higher risk of suffering ACL tears than males. Female volleyball players are certainly at risk.
This injury often results from a player landing awkwardly from a jump. She often feels a pop in her knee or her knee gives way. Often swelling develops quickly. You will probably have difficulty bearing weight.
An orthopedic surgeon can discuss surgical treatment of this injury. ACL reconstruction can provide stability to the knee. Return to play can take 6 to 12 months.
Volleyball injury #3 – Hand and finger injuries
In volleyball, players strike the ball with their hands and use their fingertips to set the ball. It is no surprise, then, that finger injuries occur in the sport. You can rupture the tendons of the fingers, like a mallet finger injury. You can also fracture one of the bones in the fingers. The specific treatment depends on the nature of the injury, but some tendon injuries and fractures in the hand require surgery.
Volleyball injury #4 – Low back pain
Given the power and explosive nature of the movements in volleyball, it is possible to strain the muscles of the lower back. Volleyball players can develop spondylolysis of the lumbar spine. This back injury is essentially a stress fracture in the lumbar spine. Treatment often involves rest and physical therapy.
Volleyball injury #5 – Shoulder impingement
Due to the repetitive blocking, spiking, and overhead motions involved in the sport, shoulder pain can develop over time. A volleyball player can have pain with no structural damage, although injury to the labrum or rotator cuff tendons can occur. Impingement of the shoulder can cause pain with repeated play and overhead use. Rest and physical therapy can help resolve the pain and allow the athlete to return to play.
Volleyball injuries might not be as common as those in sports like football, soccer, or basketball. It is still important to recognize that they can occur. If you have pain during or after play, it can be a good idea to see a doctor or sports medicine specialist.
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