It has been my great pleasure over the last 18 months to finally get round to learning how to play volley ball. I have found true childlike joy in throwing myself around after a ball. Sometimes I even make a connection with the ball. In this time I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about a lot of injuries! Here’s my gift back to you. The finest physiotherapy knowledge on the common injuries and how you can treat / avoid them.
In this first section we talk about the conditions that we’ve seen most commonly and the clinic and on the court. In the second section: 8 Best Exercises For Volleyball Injury Avoidance we talk about what you can do about it. Obviously the best thing to do is to come see us, but then we would say that. No 2 injuries are the same and neither are the biomechanics. We’ve seen shoulder problems with the underlying problem coming from the foot. Really! So the best bet is always to get the problem properly assessed and treated for the quickest, safest resolution and to minimise the risk or re-occurrence. Sales pitch over, here’s the FREE stuff!
1. Rotator Cuff Problems
If you don’t know what a rotator cuff is chances are you’ve never had a problem with them. They are 4 small intrinsic muscles within the shoulder. Their function is to affect small movements around the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. With the repeated movements of the shoulder in volleyball these can become the scapegoats that start hurting you particularly with a spike or any overhead shots.
2. Wrist Pain
Wrists take a pounding in beach volleyball. Fact. Even if you have perfect dig technique you’ve still got to push yourself back off the sand mid-rally. This will be compounded if you have what we like to call non-optimal movement patterns. Put simply this means the nerves that run through your wrist will already be at an increased level of sensitivity. Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it. But it’s quite normal and can usually be quickly improved. To find out how keep reading…
3. Beach Volleyball Elbow
Ok so not one out of the text book but it can be a real problem for many people. Symptoms mirror Golfer’s and Tennis Elbow. It’s very similar to the biomechanics of the wrist pain described above. It is rarely that you have genuinely just over used the muscle and tendon complex. We prefer to put it as your muscles / tendon has become tired due to non-optimal movement patterns. Hopefully this sounds less threatening, if a little long winded! Remove the underlying biomechanics and the tension on the nerve and muscle is eased and you can play for longer.
4. Damn Sore Forearms! - Median / Radial Nerve Irritation
Exactly the same as the last 2 conditions biomechanically but the pain causing structure lies somewhere between the wrist and elbow. This one I struggled with briefly in my first few games. Mostly from terrible technique. But it can affect the best of players especially if there is an increase in stress levels off the court which increases the sensitivity of the nerves in the whole body. The term “my nerves are frayed” to refer to heightened stress didn’t occur by accident!
The key thing is with this and the other conditions is not to worry about them too much. Avoid catastrophic thoughts like “I’ll never be able to play pain free again” or “Volleyball tonight is going to hurt so much.” The more you fear it the more it will hurt due to the increased nerve sensitivity caused by such and similar thoughts. Trust that it will be fine and it will be. If it isn’t, you know where we are.
5. Whiplash / Neck Problems
I can only liken my first few post volleyball games to waking up after a car crash. I put this down to a few reasons. I’m over 40 and pretending not to be. If there’s a ball to be dived for I’m going for it. My body was in no way adapted to the new sport.
Experienced players shouldn’t suffer from such extreme reactions as their bodies are well adapted to the dynamic nature of the sport. But the cumulative effect of hitting the sand can have an impact on the muscles in and around the neck. Interestingly this can affect nerve tension down the arms which can affect the conditions previously discussed. So even if you don’t think you have a tight neck it may be affecting your symptoms elsewhere.
6. Broken Digits
Yeah not much we can do with this one. Firstly you probably should have had better technique in the first place. Secondly any suspected breaks get down the docs and get it checked out. If you’ve had a break and it’s still causing you problems then we can help you when it’s healed. If it’s a ligament problem we may be able to fast track the healing and return time for you.
Most ligaments (except the cruciates in the knee) in the body are continuous with the surrounding musculature. By using this knowledge and optimising the musculature affecting the ligament we can often ease the pain quickly. This does however need proper assessment. No quick easy exercise for this one but just to let you know not to panic and there is hope of a quick return!
7. Knee Pain
Of course all of us perform our digs with technical perfection. I see it as a sign that I’m improving that my legs are completely shot after a game or lesson. A great functional exercise but if our bodies aren’t well adapted or we get a bit carried away playing lots of games then this over use of muscles can impact sensation around the knee. Don’t panic, it’s rarely the knee that’s the problem, it’s usually just the scapegoat.
So that’s the most common injuries from volleyball we’ve seen at the clinic. Now you want to know what to do about them right? Obviously the best, safest and quickest option for a return to the court is to come in for an assessment by your caring sharing Sports Therapists and Physiotherapists at Swindon Sports Therapy. But for those who are hard up for cash or those who are interested in preventing all of the above here’s a link to the 8 Best Exercises For Volleyball Injury Avoidance which includes the best stretch in the world!