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In Season Volleyball Injuries: A Proactive Approach To Decreasing Pain And Improving Performance

In Season Volleyball Injuries: A proactive approach to decreasing pain and improving performance

As with any repetitive motion, overuse inquires can and most likely will happen. These are common and need to be understood, along with preventive measures and/or corrective strategies to overcome and minimize the injury along with any future damage.   Let’s take a look at two major areas of the body with respect to volleyball players and their in season injuries that occur. We will uncover these, as well as provide simple solutions that can help immediately!

To better understand an injured area, first we must better understand its function. Injuries relate closely to proper joint function, or more appropriately, to joint dysfunction. Problems at one joint usually show up as pain in the joint above or below. This is broken down in its entirety here: The Joint By Joint Approach by Grey Cook. We are going to look at the Knees and Shoulders with respect to common in season volleyball injuries.

The Process is Simple

Lose ankle mobility, get knee pain

Lose hip mobility, get low back pain

Lose thoracic mobility; get neck and shoulder pain, or low back pain


In the book Ultra-Prevention, a nutrition book, authors Mark Hyman and Mark Liponis describe our current method of reaction to injury perfectly. Their analogy is simple: Our response to injury is like hearing the smoke detector go off and running to pull out the battery. The pain, like the sound, is a warning of some other problem. Icing a sore knee without examining the ankle or hip is like pulling the battery out of the smoke detector. The relief is short-lived.


The Knees.

First off, let’s look at the FUNCTION of the knees: The knee is a STABILE joint. That means that it is designed to move forward and backward (sagittal plane) without lateral or rotational movement. Commonly too much lateral force or rotation will results in ligament tears. Yuck. With respect to Grey’s Joint By Joint approach, this means we must also consider the next joint ABOVE and BELOW with respect to functionality (or more than likely dysfunctionality). These would include the ANKLE (which is a mobile joint), along with the HIP (ball and socket mobile joint). Ankle mobility and hip mobility play a large role in keeping the knee stable.

Common knee pain in are patella tendonitis (Jumper Knee), and Cruciate Ligament injuries (ACL, MCL, PCL). Patellar tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the tibia (or shin bone). Patellar tendinitis is common in any athlete subjected to repetitive, forceful jumping activities, such as spiking and blocking. Like ankle sprains, most Cruciate Ligament injuries in volleyball players occur when a player lands awkwardly after jumping. Notice the trend. The knee is not STABLE and becomes mobile in the wrong plane of motion and pain or injury occurs.

The fixes: Ankle mobility exercises as well as hip mobility exercises are a great place to start when looking at knee pain. Let’s get those joints functioning properly and then tackle the knee. Secondly, muscular imbalance or tightness can be the cause of the knee pain and needs to be addressed. A simply couch stretch, shown here Couch Stretch Image: Quadriceps Stretch is a great way to improve the flexibility of the quadriceps muscle and attempt to take some tightness off that patella tendon. Improve the ankles mobility, the knees stability (through proper strength training and muscular development) along with improving hip mobility and TADA….we have decreased pain and increase performance. The exception to the rule seems to be at the hip. The hip can be both immobile and unstable, resulting in knee pain from the instability–a weak hip will allow internal rotation and adduction of the femur–or back pain from the immobility.

The Shoulders

The FUNCTION of the shoulder is to be MOBILE. It is a ball and socket joint that needs the freedom to move 360 degrees. Its needs to move sagitally (forward and backward), laterally (abduction and adduction) and transversly (rotation). The shoulder is complex and has many areas surrounding it that needs to be analyzed when looking at the pain. Commonly, PT’s and doctors will go right to the ROTATOR CUFF when this simply might be the problem. So just as we did on the knee, let’s look at the surrounding areas and their FUCNTION to better understand the issues at hand. The gleno-humeral joint is similar to the hip. The gleno-humeral joint is designed for mobility and therefore needs to be trained for stability. The need for stability in the gleno-humeral joint presents your strength program to include STABILITY exercise. Stability areas are in the Core and the Scapular region. These needs to be addressed to see if the joint in question is able to do its job efficiently. Most common injuries to the shoulder come from imbalance or dysfunction. A sore shoulder after a weekend of playing volleyball can be just from overusage, but we can also attempt to eliminate the over mobility of the shoulder by implementing shoulder stability exercise, as well as surrounding muscular strengthening.

As you can see, there is more than just looking at the joint in question when fixing pain or improving function. That’s what we do best. Our program takes each and every clients needs into consideration and develops a plan for their improvement. Too many athletes are getting injured because the old adage of ICE IT is still around. Let’ become smarter and proactive. Let’s take steps to improve the longevity of our athletes. We all know there isn’t an OFF SEASON for volleyball. We look forward to helping you on your journey. Jason Arnold, founder of Alpha Athletics can be contacted via email at

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