Whether it’s in the gym, on the playground or in the sand, volleyball has become a big hit with adults and children worldwide. As the sport continues to grow in popularity and more people of all ages are playing, volleyball-related injuries also are increasing.
Jennifer M. Brey, M.D., is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville. She treats kids ages 6 to 18 who have sustained volleyball-related injuries.
“Although volleyball is a relatively safe sport compared to other high-contact sports, it does lend itself to injury problems, especially injuries to knees, ankles and shoulders,” Dr. Brey said. “Like for many young athletes who are training year-round, overuse injuries in volleyball players are becoming a much bigger issue.”
Here are the most common volleyball injuries and tips on how to prevent and treat them:
Ankle sprains are most common, accounting for about 40 percent of all volleyball-related injuries. It is important to properly rehab the ankle before returning to play. Otherwise, the injury is likely to return, even after months of pain-free activity.
Ankle-balancing and weight-training exercises are the best ways to prevent ankle sprains. It’s also a good idea to wear a brace if there is a history of ankle injuries or if a health care professional advises it.
One of the most frequent knee problems involves the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). ACL sprains or tears often occur from planting, cutting, jumping, suddenly stopping or quickly changing directions. Another injury many volleyball players face is patellar tendinitis, or jumper’s knee, caused by stress on the patellar tendon.
To help prevent knee injuries, Dr. Brey recommends players learn and practice correct landing techniques and perform exercises that strengthen hamstrings and quadriceps. She also stresses the importance of quickly identifying and reporting pain to a sports health professional to minimize recovery time.
Players use their shoulders for overhead serving, spiking and blocking. A player’s arm goes into extreme positions and rotations for hitting, which can produce shoulder pain.
Exercises that strengthen the shoulder and increase flexibility are the best ways to prevent shoulder injuries. Examples include using elastic bands for resistance exercises and performing planks.
If your child suffers an athletic injury, Children’s Orthopaedics of Louisville will help put them on the road to recovery. Norton Healthcare also offers Saturday Sports Injury Clinics, complete with sports medicine physicians, orthopaedic specialists, neurologists and physical therapists, every Saturday now through Nov. 14, for kids and adults.