Among the most popular sports in the world, volleyball now has more than 200 million amateur and professional practitioners. The typical movements of this sport, such as jumping, landing and hitting the ball, are all performed at high speed, resulting in a very high risk of injury. In fact, compared to other sports, volleyball has a high rate of emergency room visits associated with matches or training sessions. The causes are mainly related to ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.
In particular, for the volleyball player's shoulder it is more a matter of functional overload injuries, i.e. linked to the repeated overcoming of the ability to tolerate certain workloads, which leads to inflammation of the shoulder joint. This means that injuries are frequent, but also that there are different treatment and prevention strategies that can come to the rescue of athletes.
Causes of shoulder pain in a volleyball player
Regardless of injuries, shoulder pain is very common in volleyball. Volleyball player's shoulder pain, in particular, can be associated with many different causes, or, more specifically, with concomitant causes, which, adding up, can increase or decrease the risk of overloading. Shoulder inflammation can also be common in volleyball. Among the most common causes:
- Total number of attacks plus beats (volume di swing). The frequent repetition of movements that are already very demanding from a biomechanical point of view is the first cause of overload;
- Years of practice. The more a player presses, the more the risk of overloading the rotator cuff increases, with a wheelie if you have been practicing for more than four years, regardless of whether you are an amateur or a professional;
- Training during the summer season. Continuing to train or play or do weight lifting work increases the risk of exposure to overload by 3.2 times compared to those who stop to rest;
- Limited range of motion of the shoulder. The repeated downward braking motion after the hand strikes the ball during the spike or serve creates small zones of shortening and contracture, resulting in stiffness.
Shoulder biomechanics in volleyball
The shoulder joint group allows the realization of many of the movements required by volleyball, such as throwing, pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering, catching, tension, striking. The shoulder is in fact inserted in a kinetic chain, made up of a series of segments which, by activating in a coordinated way, generate the force necessary to carry out the movement. In particular, overhead movements, such as the dunk in volleyball, require speed, precision, and efficiency. The kinetic chain maximizes overall muscle power, with a five-phase movement that can help you understand shoulder pain in volleyball:
- Wind-up or momentum and first loading. It begins with abduction in rapid elevation of the shoulder and ends with the initiation of the external rotation movement. The rotator cuff is activated to stabilize the humeral head;
- Cooking or loading. The shoulder extra-rotates in its maximum range of motion, the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles develop high peaks of force and the anterior part of the joint capsule is unloaded, thus avoiding its anterior translation of the humeral head;
- Arm acceleration. It is the propulsive phase that ends with the hit on the ball, in which there is an inversion of the movement, an internal rotation of the shoulder and an acceleration of the arm;
- Hit on the ball. It is the impact phase, when the upper limb is perpendicular to the torso. It is a traumatic phase of the movement, as the power with which the arm is unloaded on the ball causes a very high level of vibration;
- Arm follow-through or deceleration. It's the end of the movement. Rotator cuff muscle activity is high as they are in the eccentric phase of movement.
Treatment of the volleyball player's shoulder: kinesio taping
Recovering from a shoulder overuse injury involves first identifying the causes and responsible risk factors. Once identified, we proceed to solve them individually. In case of articulation deficit, for example, stretching and elongation exercises will be useful to promote good tissue elasticity. Or, in the event of imbalances between the muscle strength ratios of the volleyball players' cap, a strengthening program must be set up. In several cases, the application of shoulder taping in volleyball can have several positive effects:
- In the setter It is free shoulder kinesio taping in volleyball aims to stimulate the kinetic chain to give greater strength to the athlete when he has to dribble and push the ball far;
- In the solo setter aims at stimulating the flexor muscles of the wrist and the long and short muscles of the thumb, to provide greater strength in the hands during the dribble and more precision and symmetry in the push;
- In the solo striker aims at stimulating the flexor muscles and is composed of two distinct trajectories applied to the dominant limb.
Prevention of volleyball shoulder: exercises and auxiliary tools
Increasing the strength of the shoulder stabilizer muscles is the best form of prevention for shoulder joint pain in volleyball. To prevent injuries it is good to avoid massively strengthening the pectoralis major, but rather aiming to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles with elastic bands. Dorsal spine mobility exercises, improvement of active shoulder mobility, development of proprioceptive skills and capsular and pectoralis major stretching can help. To be effective, shoulder exercises in volleyball must be performed with correct posture and body alignment. The most effective combination is between stretching of the posterior capsule and mobilization of the glenohumeral joint.
Among the prevention aids for the shoulder in volleyball, the techniques defined IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization) have recently found diffusion, ie techniques for treating soft tissues assisted by instruments. The use of tools makes the treatment of countless problems less painful and more effective. Even athletes with conditions related to shoulder joint overload can benefit from this technique, improving the result of the treatment. IASTM techniques involve the use of hypoallergenic stainless steel instruments, which are slid over the skin previously prepared with a specific ointment.
Cuff to reduce overload in the arm
NO-STRAIN by FLOKY is the first biomechanical sleeve designed to reduce the vibrations that cause inflammatory problems and injuries in many sports, including those affecting volleyball players. NO-STRAIN protects and supports the elbow, the forearm and all the tendon and muscle parts of the athlete, thanks to the stabilization generated by the compression of the tissue combined with the biomechanical applications, which allow for immediate relief from vibrational stresses with consequent reduction of inflammatory disorders and injuries.