two female volleyball players playing game outside
Health and Wellness

Volleyball Shoulder Pain Treatment & Recovery

Aug 17, 2023

Most players often deal with volleyball shoulder pain since the sport takes a toll on muscles and joints. It’s one of the common sports injuries that athletes have to deal with regularly. It might be tempting to think that the body would adapt to this sort of movement with time, but it doesn't. Even seasoned volleyball players need to deal with shoulder pain relatively often. 

As with all physical workouts, training and recovery periods are vital in ensuring that players can continue to perform at their maximum capacity. Here, we'll examine volleyball shoulder pain treatment, ways to relieve shoulder tension at home, and what leads to this condition.

Causes of Shoulder Pain from Volleyball

There are several reasons why shoulder pain might result from playing volleyball. Among the problems that might lead to these issues are:

  •  Incorrect positioning during volleyball activities: Poor form and positioning while playing volleyball can lead to increased stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles.
  •  Inadequate stretching before and after games/practices: Failing to perform proper pre and post-game stretches can result in tight muscles and reduced shoulder flexibility, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Overuse and repetitive movements: Repeatedly performing specific volleyball motions can strain the shoulder's tendons and muscles, causing overuse injuries. Players can look at reducing pain from repetitive motion injuries if this happens.
  • Other potential triggers like muscle imbalances, poor posture, etc.: Muscle imbalances, weak stabilizing muscles, and poor overall posture can contribute to shoulder pain when playing volleyball.

These actions could lead to pain from playing volleyball, but the type of pain an athlete encounters may differ. Long-term, consistent pain is significantly different from one-off, short-term pain.

Acute or one-off shoulder pain usually comes from intense volleyball activities and may be temporary, requiring rest and basic treatments like icing and pain relievers. Chronic shoulder pain or recurring injuries develop over time from persistent strain and may involve conditions such as rotator cuff tendinopathy or shoulder impingement, necessitating more extensive medical evaluation. Consult a doctor before starting treatments to ensure the type of treatment needed will help and not exasperate the severity of the condition.

Immediate vs. Long-Term Treatment for Shoulder Pain

Acute shoulder pain from volleyball can be treated in several ways:

  1. Rest and ice application (RICE): Cold therapy can work wonders for immediate muscle strain.
  2. Over-the-counter pain relievers: OTC pain relievers can help to reduce inflammation causing the pain while the body recovers.
  3. Compression and elevation techniques: Applying pressure firmly on the area and ensuring it's elevated above the rest of the body can help in speeding up recovery. Compression can also include the use of wraps and slings, which help to maintain pressure on the affected area while immobilizing the shoulder and arm to prevent further injury from unnecessary movements.

If someone suffers a long-term injury or has chronic shoulder pain from volleyball, the treatment would be different:

  1. Professional medical evaluation and diagnosis: Chronic pain is the body’s signal that something is not right, and by talking to a doctor or physiotherapist, you can receive help in diagnosing and treating it correctly.
  2. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises: Physiotherapists can outline a treatment regimen, including volleyball shoulder pain exercises to strengthen muscles and joints.
  3. Potential use of braces, supports, or taping for stability: Medical equipment can help to ease the pressure on ligaments, tendons, and joints, helping them heal faster.
  4. Prescription medications or injections for inflammation and pain management: Medical treatments can help reduce inflammation and dull pain in the area as a means of managing pain.
  5. Massage: An additional means of volleyball shoulder pain relief is by using massage to help provide relief to the affected area. Massage can increase blood flow to the muscles, helps to relieve strain, and relieves tightness which helps with recovery. By using an at-home massage chair for pain management, you can receive massage therapy without the need to drive to an appointment.

Recovery Strategies for Volleyball Shoulder Pain

Recovering from volleyball shoulder pain takes time and effort. It might be tempting for players to rush back into play to make the most of their time, but this could lead to severe strain and further injury down the line. Instead, a structured approach with modified training and reduced shoulder-loading activities should be followed until the pain subsides.

Volleyball shoulder pain exercises and massage can also help to ease a player back into top form. Specific stretches and massage techniques targeting the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles improve flexibility and alleviate tightness, promoting a better range of motion. Additionally, engaging in strengthening exercises helps to rebuild the weakened shoulder muscles and restore stability to the joint, reducing the risk of re-injury.

Posture also plays a significant role in ensuring that injuries don't progress and that the body is in good condition for recovery. Correct body mechanics while serving, spiking, or performing any volleyball-related movement can significantly minimize stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding structures. Improving posture can lead to a much faster recovery time for a player.

Cross-training can also help players avoid muscle imbalances and maintain overall fitness. Low-impact exercises such as cycling or swimming can help to maintain muscle fitness and improve circulation. While these are great for maintaining and dealing with injuries, prevention is always better to cure.

Shoulder Injury Prevention

To avoid injuries as a volleyball player, there are several steps an athlete can take. Warming up is a crucial methodology in getting muscles used to strenuous use over a short period. Before practice or matches, dynamic stretches and movements for shoulder blades should be incorporated to increase blood flow to the shoulder area and improve joint mobility, reducing the risk of sudden injuries.

Some players might get injured during training, so avoiding overtraining is critical in maintaining peak body condition. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and increase the likelihood of overuse injuries, so players should follow a well-structured training program with appropriate rest periods to allow for recovery and tissue repair.

Dealing with Volleyball Shoulder Pain Long-Term

A volleyball player can deal with shoulder pain from the sport in many ways, but the type of treatment depends on whether it's a short-term or long-term injury. Chronic injuries require long-term treatment planning and commitment, but short-term injuries pass quickly once they're supported effectively. 

Massage is an efficient way of getting relief from volleyball injuries. Selecting an at-home massage chair equipped with heat therapy is a great option for avid volleyball players looking to circumvent as well as treat the strain placed on their shoulders while playing the game.

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