Volleyball Injuries: Block Them Before They Get Worse
En Español (Spanish Version)

Volleyball, a favorite workout for both recreational and competitive players, is a relatively safe activity. However, as with all sports, injuries do happen. Here is what you can do if they happen to you.

Serious Injuries Rare
Serious injuries caused by things like hard collisions are not as common in volleyball as they are in other sports. Those who play volleyball are more likely to suffer overuse injuries or injuries to their fingers due to blocking and spiking the ball.

Playing volleyball can lead to injury even if you are not on one of the best collegiate teams in the nation. Let's find out about these injuries and how they are treated. And, more importantly, let us find out how you can prevent them from happening in the first place.

Patellar Tendonitis
Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper's knee, is inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shin bone. If you do get patellar tendonitis, you will feel pain just below your kneecap. You will probably feel the pain more as you jump than as you land.

Treat this pain with rest. You can also use ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control swelling. If the pain continues, see a sports medicine doctor for evaluation and treatment.

Exercises that strengthen and stretch your quadriceps muscles may be helpful. However, sometimes the condition continues even with rehabilitation. Surgery is needed in some cases.

Ankle Sprains
Going up for a block and coming down hard sometimes leads to a sprained ankle. With treatment and rehabilitation, it may take 8 weeks for you to return to full activity and sometimes longer.

After an ankle sprain, it is important to keep your ankle from being further injured. This may involve wearing an ankle brace. However, keeping your ankle completely immobilized may not be as helpul as some movement. The treatment method of rest, ice, and elevation will help to reduce swelling at first.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help treat the injury and prevent it from happening again. You can be taught stretching, strengthening, and balancing exercises that you can do at home.

If you are prone to ankle injuries, talk to your doctor to determine if wearing a brace would be helpful for you.

Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries from playing volleyball tend to be overuse injuries, such as tendinopathy or a small tears in the rotator cuff.

It's easy to injure your rotator cuff while serving and spiking the ball. The injury is more common in veteran players, however, because they have been playing the game longer and are more likely to overuse their shoulder muscles.

To treat the condition, you'll need to rest the injury and ice it at least 2-3 times a day for the first couple of days. Over-the-counter pain medication may also provide some relief. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist to learn shoulder exercises to help you recover and prevent the condition from coming back.

Hand Injuries
Fractures, sprains, and dislocations of fingers and wrists can be common in volleyball. In most cases, these injuries are minor and do not mean a lot of time off the court. However, you should see a doctor if you are unable to bend or straighten your finger. Treatment for a hand injury will vary depending on the injury.

Get in Shape
To avoid injuries, players should have a good baseline level of conditioning before playing. Concentrate on strengthening the lower back, shoulders, and legs.

Each time you play, warm up before going full speed. Start with light stretching and a short jog, for example. After the game, always remember to cool down properly.

Hit the Beach
When summer arrives and you have the option to play on the sand instead of on a hard gym floor, take it outside.

You can minimize injury by playing on a softer surface. Your foot is not anchored and there is less stress that can be transferred to other joints. As an added bonus, the view is a lot better than the view inside a court.

American College of Sports Medicine

Team USA
USA Volleyball

Canadian Resources:

Volleyball Canada


Ankle sprain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 30, 2015. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Briner W, Benjamin H. Volleyball injuries: Managing acute and overuse disorders. The Physician and Sportsmedicine. 1999;27(3).

Impingement syndrome of rotator cuff. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 15, 2015. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Patellar tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 18, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Volleyball injuries. Sports Injury Clinic website. Available at: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sports-specific/volleyball-injuries. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Volleyball injuries. Stop Sports Injuries website. Available at: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/volleyball-injury-prevention.aspx. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Last Reviewed February 2015

Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.


This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.


To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.