It's thrilling to watch a volleyball player jump high, take aim like a laser and hit a kill so hard that it nearly puts a hole in the gym floor. But all that power and force take a toll on players' shoulders.
Let's take a look at some common issues related to repetitive hitting, along with some corrective exercises to reduce volleyball shoulder injuries.
Problem: Tight Posterior Shoulder
The backside of the shoulder absorbs much of the impact from hitting. It also provides much of the force in decelerating the arm after a swing. All that trauma in one area often leads to an imbalanced shoulder, in which the front is loose and the back becomes too tight. This affects shoulder mobility and posture, leading to incorrect movement patterns and an increased risk of both shoulder and ACL injuries.
AIS Sleeper Shoulder Stretch
- Lie on your side on a stable surface with your back flat to the wall.
- Tuck your shoulder blades so your chest puffs out.
- Set up with an elbow at 90 degrees and your arm at 90 degrees, arm resting on the ground.
- With your other hand, gently press your wrist down so it moves toward your navel.
- Do not let your back round or shoulders move away from the wall.
Sets/Reps: 3x10 each arm, 30 seconds rest between sets
RELATED: Volleyball Summer Training Guide
Problem: Lack of Trunk Rotational Ability
To produce top force when hitting, your core has to rotate quickly. Producing such speed causes a decreased range of motion in the trunk, which can lead to a shortening of the muscles that rotate the core and in turn impair spinal rotational mobility.
Seated T-Spine with Rotation
- Kneel with your knees separated and sit on your heels.
- Place your right hand, palm down, on the ground in front of your right knee.
- Place your left hand behind your head.
- Touch your left elbow to your right elbow across your midline.
- Rotating from your core, take your left elbow away from your midline until you feel a stretch in your core and chest.
- Pause for a 2 count at the stretch and repeat for 10 reps.
- Switch your arm setup and repeat on the other side.
Sets/Reps: 3x10 each side, 30 seconds rest between sets.
Problem: Overlooked Core Muscles
You have small muscles in the front of your ribcage, between the pectoralis and latissimus, called the serratus anterior muscles. You don't have to memorize the anatomical terms. All you need to know is that it is difficult to find a way to work these muscles and that they need to be strong in order to aid in shoulder stability and deceleration.
- Get into elbow plank position with your feet hip-width apart and your hands separated.
- Keeping your back flat and your hips down, pull your body as far forward as you can, while maintaining control.
- Push back to starting position and repeat for 15 repetitions.
Sets/Reps: 3x15, 30 seconds rest between sets
Problem: Limited Shoulder Blade Mobility
Your shoulder blades are designed to float on your ribcage. The strain competitive volleyball places on the body can reduce this ability and lead to numerous issues, including a condition know as a winged scap. This is when the shoulder blades lock, and even simple movements such as raising your hand become extremely difficult.
Quadruped Scapular Flex
- Get into a quadruped position (hands and knees) with your shoulders directly over your hands.
- Keeping your back flat, head neutral and core tight, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a 2 count.
- Again keeping core tight, push your shoulder blades as far apart as possible, count to 2 and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 3x10, 30 seconds rest between sets
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock