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Common Volleyball Injuries

Tips for treating and preventing the most common volleyball injuries and pain

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Updated May 19, 2014

Male beach volleyball player jumping up to spike ball. California, USA.
David Madison/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Volleyball injuries are generally defined as either cumulative (overuse) or acute (traumatic) injuries.

Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on the muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper time for healing. They begin as a small, nagging ache or pain, and can grow into a debilitating injury if they aren't treated early.

Common volleyball injuries that fall into this category include:

Acute or traumatic injuries occur due to a sudden force, or impact, and can be quite dramatic. The more common traumatic injuries in volleyball include:

Knee Injuries

Ligament injuries to the knee are very common in sports that require stopping and starting or quickly changing directions. These extreme forces on the knee can result in torn ligaments. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are the most often injured, but the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL)can also be injured.

Cruciate ligament injuries don't always cause pain, but typically cause a loud "pop." Most of these injuries are confirmed with an MRI. Arthroscopic surgery is sometimes the best way to find a partial tear.

Torn Knee Cartilage (Meniscus Injuries)
Torn knee cartilage is usually a torn meniscus. These small, "c" shaped pieces of cartilage act as cushions between the thigh bone (femur) and the tibia (shin bone). There is one on the outside (lateral meniscus) and one on the inside of the knee (medial meniscus). Meniscus tears are often the result of twisting, pivoting, decelerating, or a sudden impact. It cam be identified by various manual tests a physician can perform to detect torn cartilage.

Chondromalacia
This term refers to softening and deterioration of the underside of the kneecap. In young athletes this is typically an injury from trauma, overuse, poor alignment of the knee joint, or muscle imbalance. This leads to friction and rubbing under the kneecap the results damage to the surface of the cartilage. The sensation is a dull pain around or under the kneecap that worsens when walking down stairs or hills, climbing stair other weight bearing activity.

Miscellaneous Volleyball Pain and Injuries

Blisters
Blisters are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin that commonly occurs on the hands, or the feet.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness
Also called "DOMS," this muscle pain, stiffness or soreness occurs 24-48 hours after particularly intense exercise or a new program.

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel and usually defined by pain during the first steps of the morning

Sprains and Strains
These are acute injuries that vary in severity but usually result in pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of the ability to move and use the joint.

Stress Fractures
Stress fractures in the leg are often the result of overuse or repeated impacts on a hard surface

Many sports injuries result from overuse, lack of proper rest, lack or proper warm ups or poor conditioning. The following safety precautions are recommended to help prevent help volleyball injuries:

  • Warm up thoroughly prior to play.
  • Wear shoes with skid-resistant soles.
  • Use good technique and play by the rules.
  • Clean off courts before play - check for slippery spots or debris.
  • Have a first aide kit on hand.
  • Get adequate recovery.
  • Stay hydrated.
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