5 Common Volleyball Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Spiking, jumping, setting — for all the excitement that goes along with a game of volleyball, like all sports, every player runs a risk of injury. Learn about five common volleyball injuries, so you can protect yourself during practice and games on the court.

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1. Volleyball Ankle Injuries

The most common volleyball-related injuries involve the ankle — ankle sprains are the most common injury in the sport.

Most ankle sprains are not severe, and require only a few days or a few weeks of rest and, often, physical therapy. More severe ankle injuries can result in fractures and ligament/tendon injuries that can require surgery. A supportive ankle brace can help you avoid re-injury, so if you have a history of ankle injuries, your doctor may recommend that you wear one.

2. Jumper’s Knee (patellar tendonitis)

Volleyball requires players to jump to defensively block incoming balls and offensively spike balls into the opposing team’s court.

Repeated jumping — especially on hard surfaces like the gymnasium floor — can result in a condition called jumper’s knee. This is when the tendons around the knee cap (patella) become irritated by small micro-tears, resulting in knee pain and stiffness.

You can prevent jumper’s knee by reducing the amount you jump at practice, as well as by strengthening the surrounding knee muscles. If you experience pain from jumping, it is best to seek attention from a medical expert, which may include your team’s athletic trainer or a sports medicine physician.

Playing on a softer surface, such as a sandy beach, can also help reduce impact to the knee. Keep in mind, however, that sand volleyball players may have additional risk factors for injury compared to indoor players.

3. Shoulder Injuries in Volleyball

In volleyball, spiking and serving are high-stress activities that can result in injuries to the tendons and ligaments that support the shoulder.

While casual players probably don’t need to worry about hurting their shoulders, competitive players should limit the amount of serves and spikes and listen carefully to their body’s pain signals.

Shoulder strengthening, stretching before play, and using proper mechanics for serving and hitting, also can reduce your risk of injury.

4. Volleyball Finger Injuries

Volleyball players can suffer jammed, dislocated, and fractured fingers from contact with the ball, the net, and even with teammates.

An injured finger should be evaluated and treated immediately, especially if there is significant pain, swelling, discoloration, or inability to move it. A prompt evaluation and treatment plan can reduce the likelihood of long-term issues, including pain and deformity.

5. Lower Back Pain from Volleyball

Many athletes have lower back pain from playing their sport, however, low back pain is fairly common among volleyball players as a result of muscle or ligament strain. If the pain doesn’t get better after a few days, or is worse during certain movements, you should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Preventing Volleyball Injuries

These steps can help prevent volleyball injuries:

  • Stretch and warm-up before playing
  • Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water
  • Keep up your cardiovascular fitness and core strength
  • Get enough rest. You may want to avoid playing for multiple teams to reduce the risk of overuse injuries
  • Practice good technique. Consulting a specialty coach will help you make the most of the mechanics
  • Treat injuries as they occur and allow your body to completely recover before heading back out on the court

For more information on sports injuries and rehabilitation, visit the UPMC Sports Medicine website.