How Volleyball Players Can Prevent ACL Injuries
From shifting and cutting to jumping and diving, the chances of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are multiplied in every volleyball set. Trauma to the ACL can sideline players anywhere from seven to nine months, which means just one accident may cost them an entire season. Therefore, ACL injury prevention practices, exercises, and routines are critical in keeping volleyball athletes safe on the court and in the sand.
The Most Common Causes of ACL Trauma
There are multiple movements that can potentially cause partial or full ACL tears — quickly changing direction, landing at an angle, or swiftly leaning to the opposite side. At the time of injury, athletes typically feel a “popping” sensation along with immediate, intense knee pain. While risk of such injury is clearly prevalent across volleyball, the following factors may further affect an athlete’s likelihood of sustaining an ACL injury:
- Environment — Indoor volleyball and beach volleyball present unique environmental factors that contribute to ACL injury. The hard surface of a traditional volleyball court can stress the knee joints and ligaments upon landing, while the uneven terrain of a beach volleyball court can make regular volleyball moves even more unstable.
- Playing style — Players that take more chances on the court risk more injuries as well. Therefore, an aggressive playing style can make volleyball athletes even more prone to ACL injury in particular.
Treating and Recovering From ACL Injuries
ACL injuries may range in severity, from mild ligament damage to complete tears, which means treatment options can range from conservative measures — resting, stabilizing the knee, and working through a physical therapy routine — to full reconstruction. Fortunately, most ACL repairs can now be performed arthroscopically. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which small incisions allow surgeons to graft the ligament and repair partial or full tearing.
Regardless of which course of treatment an ACL injury requires, physical therapy will help athletes regain flexibility, build strength, and promote comfort. Physical therapy programs typically include a series of exercises that are individualized based on a recovering athlete’s age and activity level. Such rehabilitation is critical to protecting the knee, educating the patient, and preventing reinjury.
ACL Injury Prevention for Volleyball Players
Every volleyball player’s jump, dive, or lunge ends with a landing, and preparing for that landing is crucial to ACL injury prevention. Building muscles that can secure the knees is imperative for offsetting injury, but players should also focus on improving technique while strengthening the lower body, core, and hips. An injury prevention warmup designed to improve spatial awareness, balance, and strength can help players mitigate damage from unexpected contact and better absorb pressure upon landing.
Specifically, athletes must prioritize proper touchdown techniques — bending the knees and balancing pressure between both legs. Likewise, some athletes may need to modify their playing style and practice shifting and cutting without applying excess torque. The following exercises can help players build safer playing habits and improve their ability to avoid ACL injuries:
- 360-degree jumps
- Forward and backward lunges
- Block jumps
- Single-led glute bridges
Advanced ACL Care in St. Augustine
ACL injury recovery, rehabilitation, and prevention starts with Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine. At our sports medicine center, athletes have access to the most highly advanced treatment options and full rehabilitation programs. To schedule an appointment, fill out our online request form or call 904-825-0540.
Paul Roettges, MD
A member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Association of Knee and Hip Surgeries, Dr. Roettges performs hip and knee replacements as well as complex unresolved hip and knee pain.
Sina Kasraeian, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and has extensive training in arthroscopy and sports medicine reconstructive procedures.