Common volleyball injuries and how to avoid them

The surprising risks that come with volleyball

Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to play volleyball. Whether you play indoors or at the beach, volleyball is a rewarding team sport that encourages cooperation and athleticism.

While Volleyball might seem like a relatively low-risk sport, players can actually develop plenty of pain symptoms and injuries. Fortunately, many of these are easy to treat and require little time for recovery. Still, it’s important to be aware of the risks when playing any sport, and have someone with medical training and equipment around whenever possible.

Read below to learn more about what injuries may occur during volleyball matches – plus, how to prevent them.

Common injuries that volleyball players face

Rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common occurrences throughout many sports – including volleyball. The rotator cuff is a set of muscles found in the shoulder, and they allow you to twist and turn your arm. This muscle set comes into play in many ways during a volleyball match, and rotating your shoulder is necessary to aim your racket at an incoming ball.

Unfortunately, twisting too rapidly or in an awkward motion can leave these muscles either inflamed or in more severe cases ruptured.

Minor injuries can be treated with ices and will need a short time to heal. More severe injuries or strains that do not seem to heal may require a visit to a specialist.

Finger Injuries

Volleyball players often have sore fingers after matches – but sometimes, they can face more severe injuries as well. Volleyballs are particularly hard, and if they zoom quickly towards fingers when they are in a vulnerable position, the player may be left injured or in pain. Specifically, fingers can become fractured, dislocated, or end up with a torn ligament or tendon.

Minor injuries can be treated with ices and will need a short time to heal. More severe injuries or strains that do not seem to heal may require a visit to a specialist.

Wrist injuries

Many movements in volleyball require sharp movements of the wrist – serving the ball, for example, requires the wrist to be bent forward. This leaves the wrist vulnerable to injuries from the ball, or painful twists. Sore wrists can usually heal with some ice and rest, but fractures and other severe injuries may require a visit to a specialist.

Ankle sprains

Any athlete knows that ankle sprains can come from nowhere, and can be rough – especially in the middle of an athletic match. Even though volleyball doesn’t require the same type of movement as a sport with a larger field – say, soccer or football – players can still face a sprained ankle from the swift movements in a volleyball match. Players with sprained ankles should sit aside until their sprain heals.

ACL injuries

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a band of tissues that connects your thighbone to your shinbone. Your ACL may ‘pop,’ indicate that it is dislocated – this is a common injury in athletics, and can range in how painful or severe it is. Most ACL injuries require assistance from a specialist.

Back pain

This may come as a surprise, but back pain often comes up for volleyball players. Most of the time, these instances of pain come from leaning forward and backward repeatedly during matches. Back pain can be treated with rest and ice, though a visit to a chiropractor, massage therapist, or similar professional can make a huge difference in healing.

More tips to avoid injuries during volleyball matches

Stretch and warm up before playing

Stretching and warming up is key to the success of any athlete. By stretching out each body part and giving each one a chance to prepare and practice different motions, you’re permitting your muscles and joints to be more flexible. This will lower the risk of awkward positions and discomfort – both of which can lead to injuries.

Practice proper serving techniques

Serving the ball is a particularly important move in volleyball. It is also easy to perform incorrectly – specifically in a way that leaves the fingers or wrist vulnerable. During practice rounds, make sure to check your form carefully.

Try knee pads and ankle bracing or taping

Knee pads and ankle tape offer great support for athletes. They can protect sensitive joints and ligaments and encourage proper stretching and functionality.

Drink lots of water

It’s important to stay energized while performing any physical activity. Proper hydration can help give you the energy to ensure your form is proper and that you can participate without growing tired or sore.

Try different types of exercises

By diversifying your fitness regime, your body will become accustomed to more movements – this will ultimately make in-game stretches and motions less awkward or uncomfortable.

Sore of injured? visit a physiotherapist

Athletes who find themselves with injuries or severe pain should consider seeing a physiotherapist. These professionals are trained to understand the source and complexity of your pain and help you form an action plan to recover. This may include exercises, stretches, or other forms of healing.

So, if you’re out with an injury and want to hit the volleyball field soon, a physiotherapist might help you find your path to recovery.


Volleyball players go through a lot, and injuries come more often than people realize. By learning about the most common injuries, taking steps to prevent them, and being aware of treatment options, volleyball players can protect their health and well-being.

Johanne Gordon - Registered Physiotherapist

Johanne is an experienced, fluently bilingual physiotherapist who graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in physiotherapy with magna cum laude honours from the University of Ottawa.

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