How to Stay Healthy on the Court: Shoulder Injury Prevention
The frequency and intensity of sports have increased over the years leading to increased injuries. With the increase in frequency, athletes are not allowing their bodies adequate rest time with jumping from high school, to club and back again with very little to no rest in between seasons. Of particular concern, are the front row overhead athletes.
Overhead athletes are at risk for shoulder injuries, secondary to the repetitive hitting motion they make with spiking the ball down in the opponents court. Rotator cuff tears and impingements are most common for this group.
Take the Time to Perform a Proper Warm Up
Going out and taking big hits with a shoulder that is “cold” or not warmed up is dangerous and can lead to injury. Take control of your shoulder health and begin your practice (or prior to practice) with some forearm passing, dynamic warm up, and with <50% max swings during pepper with a partner or against a wall.
Perform a pec stretch and swims using the foam roller to help open up the front of the chest. Due to the high number of swings a hitter takes during volleyball, one can become tight in their chest. Performing exercises to improve flexibility of these muscles will reduce the risk of injury to the shoulder.
Perform internal rotation (IR) and external rotation (ER) using a theraband to provide resistance and improve strength of the rotator cuff muscles (the muscles that help to stabilize the shoulder joint). In addition, one can use the theraband for a middle row exercise to improve scapular strength, which will help to improve stability of the shoulder and shoulder blade.
Utilizing these 3 steps will help to reduce and prevent the likelihood of one developing a rotator cuff injury during volleyball activities. As a hitter, the worst thing is sitting on the sidelines or being told you can only play back-row and pass – “coach, we want to hit!!”