Like many sports, volleyball comes with some risks. This popular, fast-paced, explosive-natured sport requires players to react quickly, swiftly generate power from the legs, core and arms and perform movements repeatedly. Year-round, intense competition adds to the challenges for preventing overuse injuries and athlete burnout. However, strategic rest and recovery periods and following appropriate safety recommendations can help decrease injury risk and help keep these athletes on the court.
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Activity-related pain in young athletes is something that should be evaluated. In very young players, injuries to the growth plate can become worse with activity. In 10–13-year-olds, overuse injury from repetitive jumping or running occurs in the front of the knee. It is called Osgood-Schlatter disease and affects the leg at the top of the shin bone, which can be irritated with landing, sliding and jumping common in volleyball. Knee pads can be helpful, but rest is recommended to properly address and even prevent this overuse injury. Weekly rest and at least one to three months off from volleyball throughout the year is recommended.
Traumatic injuries to the knee and ankle can occur when jumping and landing or changing direction quickly. The soft tissues inside the knee joint are at risk of injury, especially when an athlete has poor neuromuscular control. This means the muscles and the brain do not work together quickly enough to protect the joint in risky positions and movements. To reduce the risk of injuries such as ankle sprains, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and knee cartilage injuries, neuromuscular training can be helpful.
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Stress fractures can occur in specific areas of the foot or leg and are often associated with a large number of training hours, a sudden increase in training intensity or a year-round training schedule. Though often caused by excessive training, athletes are at an increased risk of stress fractures when they are not properly fueled Under fueling, or insufficient nutrition, to meet the needs of a growing and developing body and the training demands of volleyball can set an athlete up for this painful condition. Read more [stress fracture blog].
Frequently asked questions regarding volleyball athletes and concussions.
Though equipment like headbands and mouthguards may prevent other injuries to the head or face they do not prevent a concussion. We can reduce the risk of injury with strict enforcement of rules and provide a safe playing environment. We can also reduce the consequences of a brain injury by responding quickly to suspected concussions, and immediate removal from play can reduce the number and severity of symptoms.
Though girls are treated for concussion more often than boys, they are much more likely to continue playing on the same day after experiencing symptoms or experiencing signs of a concussion than boys. Therefore, girls are at a much higher risk of experiencing more and worse concussion symptoms.
The course and length of concussion recovery looks different for everyone. Prompt recognition and removal from play has been shown to be associated with fewer symptoms. Returning to volleyball should be considered after successfully transitioning back to school and daily activities. However early physical activity has been shown to be helpful in the recovery. Since activity can make symptoms return or get worse, a progressive return to activity program, lasting at least one week, is recommended and should be guided by a sports medicine physician.
Medical clearance after a specific concussion protocol or concussion treatment may not be required by your volleyball league or club, but it is highly recommended that children and teens be cleared to return to play after a suspected or confirmed concussion by a medical provider, such as a pediatric sports medicine physician.
Learn more about concussions.
Volleyball players may have a concussion from a fall, a collision or a sudden jarring move. Computerized neurocognitive baseline testing is a valuable tool in case a concussion is sustained. The tool is helpful during a post-injury assessment and gives some perspective to the athlete’s normal help a medical provider determine readiness to return to school and volleyball. This tool is part of a multifactorial assessment and should not be used in isolation.
to learn more about baseline testing.
Even when a league or club does not require a sports physical or pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE), our team highly recommends this step before training begins. For most, this should be part of an annual visit with the athlete’s pediatrician. In addition to discussing important family and personal medical history, a musculoskeletal screen and additional questions about general health can ensure the athlete is set up for a safe season. Skipping this step may leave an athlete vulnerable to preventable injuries or conditions.