Many of the techniques in volleyball are performed with your arms above your head. Spiking, blocking and serving the ball place a significant and potentially debilitating stress on your shoulder joints. Although a volleyball is light, it is struck with tremendous force. If you have shoulder pain, several strategies can help treat your symptoms. If your shoulder pain is severe or ongoing, seek medical advice.
Shoulder pain is often caused by inflammation. Tendons, ligaments and muscles can become traumatized by overuse and, in an attempt to protect themselves, swell slightly, causing pain. Using ice, sometimes called cryotherapy, can help reduce inflammation. In addition to reducing swelling, ice also partially blocks pain signals reaching your brain. The sensation of cold overrides pain and subsequently ice has an analgesic effect. When using ice, always ensure you use a medium between the ice and your skin to avoid causing an ice burn. Check the area that you are icing every few minutes and stop icing if the area turns white because that might suggest that an ice burn is in the works.
Chronic injuries are normally the result of repeated movements over a long period. In addition to icing the area in question, consider taking a break from the activity that is causing you pain. Once you have removed the stressor, your body can begin the complex healing process. Repeated bouts of the same stress will prevent an injury from healing. Long playing seasons, contractual obligations, peer and coaching staff pressure may make it impossible to take time off but the longer you delay taking a break, the longer the injury will persist.
Some chronic shoulder pain can be the result of muscle fiber adhesions. An adhesion is when the normally parallel and freely movable muscle fibers become stuck together. Muscle fiber adhesions result in pain and stiffness. Adhesions can be treated with sports massage and active release technique. Both massage and ART results in fewer adhesions and frees up your muscle fibers so that they can function properly. This results in less pain. If you decide to try sports massage or ART, seek out a certified and licensed practitioner.
Stretching and Strengthening
Should pain can be the result of muscle strength imbalances and muscle tightness. An imbalanced shoulder joint will not function as it should and structures that are not meant to come into contact with each other may do so if the shoulder is not moving as it should. Volleyball uses the muscles on the front of the shoulder much more than the ones to the rear. Tight and overly strong front shoulder muscles will pull your shoulder joint forward and out of alignment. To remedy this, strengthen the muscles on the back of your shoulder while stretching those to the front. This will help realign the shoulder and reduce pain.
- Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff; Jim Johnson
- Sports Massage; Susan Findlay
- Sports Injuries: A Self-help Guide; Vivian Grisogono