Volleyball may not be a full-contact sport like rugby, football, and mixed martial arts but it can be just as dangerous. It looks fun and easy if you’re watching from the courtside but the sport itself also includes frequent acceleration and deceleration movements, falls, colliding with other players, sprints, and jumps.

In volleyball players, the ankle receives the most number of injuries followed by the knee. A majority of these unfortunate accidents happen during actual games while a smaller percentage occur during practice and drills. Players are actually 24 times more prone to injuring themselves in competitions.

A slight misstep after landing from a spike can lead to a painful injury which can prevent you from playing for the next few weeks. It may be inevitable in some cases but there are still steps you can follow to at least minimize the risk of injuries.

Common Types of Lower Extremity Injuries in Volleyball Players

  • Ankle Sprain. This usually happens during jumping, running, and landing. Most cases can be managed by rest and rehabilitation exercise for at least eight weeks. An ankle brace may also be recommended.

  • Patellar tendinitis. Also known as ‘Jumper’s Knee,’ this injury results when the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shin bone becomes irritated and inflamed. Repetitive movements like blocking and spiking where you need to jump forcefully is a predisposing factor. Nonsurgical intervention includes physical therapy but the doctor might resort to surgery if there’s still no symptomatic relief.

  • Patellar dislocation. This happens when the patella, also called the kneecap, slips out from its normal position in the knee, resulting in a misaligned kneecap, severe pain, swelling, discoloration, and soft tissue damage. Medical intervention is needed to pop the kneecap back into place and assess for other structural damage.

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The ACL helps to ensure knee stability so when you land awkwardly after a high, forceful jump, you might hear a popping sound which signals a tear in your ACL. The recovery period can last up to nine months.

  • A radiating low back pain. If it’s just low back pain and nothing else, you might only need rest and physical therapy. However, if the pain radiates to your lower leg especially when you sneeze or cough, it can be due to a herniated disk.

Risk Factors

Most of the mentioned conditions are caused by overuse and direct trauma. Players with little rest in between games and practices have a higher risk of sustaining injuries in the lower extremities. Other risk factors include:

  • Strength and flexibility imbalance. If your only means of working out is playing volleyball, chances are, you’re only repeatedly exercising the same set of muscles. Your core and legs may not be as strong and flexible and therefore jumping and volleying may result in injuries.

  • Competition. Most volleyball injuries happen during games because of the intensity of the competition so you should be extra careful when playing with opponents.

  • Poor balance and improper landing. The landing should always be soft and controlled. Land on the balls of your feet to avoid adding unnecessary stress to your knees.

  • Fitness level. Cross-training isn’t just to keep your other muscles strong and flexible. It’s also to make sure you’re physically fit.

  • Shoe type. The best footwear provides good padding and cushioning. It also needs excellent traction to avoid slipping on the floor. Likewise, there should be good support for the balls of your feet to allow you to change directions and move laterally with ease.

  • Playing surface. You’re more likely to roll your ankle upon landing on an uneven ground. Slippery floors also pose additional dangers.

Injury Prevention

  • You need to have enough endurance to make it through each game without injuring yourself. Cross train with workouts including plyometrics and ladder drills.

  • To improve your balance and to have better control of your body, strength train with routines that specifically target your core, lower back, shoulder, and legs. Examples are squats, lunges, and planks.

  • Do proper stretching and warm-up exercises because cold muscles are more prone to strain. Also, don’t forget to cool-down after the game.

  • Make sure you get enough rest since several injuries can result from overuse.

  • Practice good spiking, landing, jumping, and setting techniques.

  • Don’t push yourself too hard. You need to recover first before you can go back to playing volleyball.

  • Hydrate and eat a well-balanced diet.

  • Use ankle and knee supports if you suffered from injuries in these areas before.


In case of an injury, immediately seek medical consultation to determine the best course of treatment. Playing volleyball is becoming increasingly popular. Taking appropriate measures to protect and safeguard yourself from injuries can help you enjoy the game even more.