Lessen your risk of injury by working on your stability and strength throughout your body

By Dr. Katherine DeJesus, DPT

Over 460,000 high school students participate in interscholastic volleyball each year, and 76% of all volleyball players are junior girls between the ages of 10 and 18. I guess it’s safe to say high school volleyball is on the rise. Unfortunately, with an increase in participation comes an increased risk of injury and about 4 in every 1,000 players will suffer from an injury each season.

Volleyball entails a lot of repetitive motions like jumping, landing, and spiking. This repetition is what causes many players to have a high risk of overuse injuries. Some of the most common injuries that volleyball players see during a season are in their fingers, shoulders, knees, and ankles.

Good news though, you don’t have to suffer from an overuse injury, and the best way to help prevent them are to practice good technique, which all starts with a proper warm-up. Before each practice or game, you want to complete a cardiovascular, core, leg, and shoulder warm-up to ensure your body is ready to compete.

Download the full workout here.

Work on your Core Strength

Do all the exercises below at least 3 times a week. Do 3 sets of each, with 10 reps per set.

Planks
Assume a modified push-up position with your elbows bent 90 degrees and both forearms resting on the floor. Position your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and look straight toward the floor. Your body should form a  straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
Bridges
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground, without using your arms, until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Hold for a few seconds and ease into starting position.

Lats, Rhomboids, and Traps

The activities that volleyball players perform usually lead to them being stronger in their chest muscles and weaker in the upper back muscles. In order to balance the demands of the sport, strengthening lats, rhomboids, and traps are necessary. Exercises like rows, lat pull downs, and shoulder extensions can help build the upper back strength necessary to prevent injuries such as shoulder impingement.

Do all the exercises below at least 3 times a week. Do 3 sets of each, with 10 reps per set.

Shoulder extensions
Begin by placing an exercise band securely in a doorway at chest height.  Grab ahold of both ends of the exercise band and place your arms straight out in front of you.  Slowly bring your arms back to your sides, keeping your elbows straight and squeezing your shoulder blades down and together. Slowly return to starting position.  Repeat as directed.
Lat Pull Down
Hold an elastic band with both arms in front of you and with your elbows straight. Your arms should be elevated. Next, pull the band downwards and back towards your sides as you bend your elbows. Keep torso elevated as you extend your arms back to starting position.
Rows
If you use a band, you should stand upright. Begin by placing an exercise band securely in a doorway at chest height.  Grab ahold of both ends of the exercise band and place your arms straight out in front of you.  Slowly bring your arms back to your sides, bending at your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do.  Repeat as directed. 

Hips and Knees

Do all the exercises below at least 4 times a week. Do 3 sets of each, with 10 reps per set.

Sidesteps with a Theraband
Stand with a mini band around your knees. Push your hips back and lean forward at your waist.  Sit down into a mini squat position and then step sideways, stretching the elastic.  Step back and forth across the room. Repeat as prescribed. Be sure to always keep tension on the band, you will feel the fatigue on the outside of your hips.
Lateral shuffling
Starting position is standing with feet hip-width apart, knees and hips slightly bent. Bring hands up in front of your chest. Begin exercise by moving your right foot to the right and following with your left in a quick manner. Repeat these steps until you have covered the desired distance, then repeat going the opposite direction. Keep your chest up and abdominals tight as you move. Repeat specified number of repetitions.
Squats:
Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart, squat down by pushing your knees apart and down and moving your hips back. Continue squatting until your hips are lower than your knees and slowly ease yourself back up.

Although a great warm-up is the best way to prevent an injury, there are many other options you can implement into your daily routine, including eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting a good night sleep. You also want to be aware of your body, so see your doctor and have a physical before the season starts, and always rest and heal your minor injuries before they turn into major ones.


Dr. Katherine DeJesus, DPT, has worked with Performance Physical Therapy since 2015 at the Providence clinic. She has a bachelor’s degree and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Boston University and is certified in manual therapy, dry needling, and the Graston Technique. Dr. DeJesus specializes in treating general and post-surgical orthopedics, manual therapy and aquatics.