Common Injuries In Volleyball
By: Dan Johnson, PT, Director of Rehabilitation Services
High school volleyball is a sport that is becoming very popular. It's estimated that approximately 400,000 students participate in volleyball every year and 300,000 of those participants are female. Participants are at risk not only for traumatic injury, but also overuse injury.
Our experience at the WCA Hospital Sports Medicine Center is consistent with what is seen on the national level. First of all, one of the more common injuries is injury to the rotator cuff of the shoulder. This is largely due to the repetitive nature of serving and spiking, both of which are overhead motions that place stress on the rotator cuff musculature. Rarely is the rotator cuff torn in young individuals but very often athletes develop pain secondary to overuse. Labral tears can develop but are less common than rotator cuff problems. Labral injuries were discussed in our May newsletter. Both of these shoulder problems generally respond to rehabilitation, although, labral tears may require surgery if conservative care is unsuccessful.
Another common problem related to overuse is patellar tendonopathy or “jumper’s knee” which is caused by repetitive jumping. With this particular problem, athletes develop pain in the patellar tendon located just below the kneecap. Jumper’s Knee generally responds to rehabilitation. In addition, volleyball players can experience traumatic knee injuries, the most significant of these are injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This type of injury frequently requires surgery and the athlete is out of competition for a number of months. Female volleyball players are much more susceptible to ACL tears due to a number of factors.
The fingers are another frequent site of injury to volleyball players. Fractures, sprains, dislocations, and tendoninjuries are common. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury.
Low back pain is frequent in volleyball players. In young players, most back pain is related to problems in the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues, We often refer to this as mechanical back pain. Stress fractures of the lower back can occur and this is called spondylolysis. This is the second most common back problem seen in the young athlete. Disc problems are relatively uncommon in the young athlete, though they do occur. Most back problems in young volleyball players do respond to a period of restand rehabilitation.
There are some things that can be helpful in preventing volleyball injuries. Pre-season strength training concentrating on the “core musculature”, shoulders, and legs is important. It’s also important to avoid rapid or significant jumpsin an athlete’s training schedule. Athletes should gradually advance their training prior to the onset of the season to avoid overuse injuries. Proper warm up and gentle stretching are also important. If symptoms or injuries do occur, it’s also important to seek treatment from a healthcare professional that can identify the problem and come up with a treatment plan that will expedite the athletes return to safe play.
Source: American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine