The 3 Best Stretches for Volleyball
Improve your volleyball and minimize injuries with 3 of the best volleyball stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published October 31, 2008 | Updated April 24, 2019
The first game of "Volleyball" was played on July 7, 1896 at Springfield College. The game spread the world over and in 1913, a volleyball competition was held in the Far Eastern Games.
In 1922, the YMCA sponsored the first national championship in Brooklyn, NY. The first U.S. Open was played in 1928. The first World Championship was played in 1949. Volleyball was first played at the Olympic games in 1964, and beach volleyball was also soon accepted as an Olympic sport.
Muscles used in Volleyball
A strong base, legs and hips, as well as explosive lower leg strength is needed to jump and move for the ball. Strong shoulders are needed for the various overhead shots. Good strength in the core muscles helps with balance and control. A strong back will also protect from twisting or hyperextension injuries.
Volleyball calls the following major muscles into play:
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
- The muscles of the lower leg; the calf muscles- gastrocnemius and soleus, and the anterior tibialis muscle in the shin area.
- The muscles of the shoulder; the rotator cuff complex and the deltoids.
- The muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps, and the triceps.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
Most Common Volleyball Injuries
Volleyball has a pretty even incidence of injuries to the upper and lower body. The overhead movements and jumping required put stress on both parts equally. The large amount of jumping and sudden movement can lead to acute (traumatic) injuries, while the repetitive nature of the game can also lead to chronic (overuse) injuries. Common volleyball injuries include:
- Wrist sprain;
- Jammed, dislocated or fractured fingers and thumbs;
- Rotator cuff tendinitis or tear;
- Lower back strain;
- Knee injuries, including Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee) and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) sprain; and
- Ankle sprain.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Volleyball requires a lot of jumping and quick, explosive movements to react to the ball. Good spatial and body awareness is required, as well. While continuous movement is not a part of the game, good overall conditioning and endurance is needed to continue to jump and move throughout the game. Apply the following to help prevent volleyball injuries.
- Conduct a thorough warm-up prior to training and competition.
- Complete a proper cool-down after training and competition (including stretching).
- Incorporate strength training to minimize muscle imbalances and prevent injuries caused by the explosive movements required during volleyball.
- Include cardiovascular endurance training to prevent fatigue in later stages of a game.
- A strong core and good base will reduce the chances that the player will develop lower body injuries.
- Practice balance, agility and proprioception drills to improve knee and ankle stability.
- A good flexibility program will ensure the muscles are flexible enough to meet the demands of competitive play. It will also help keep the muscles from becoming tight and stiff, reducing chronic injuries.
- Skill development and attention to correct technique will help reduce overuse injuries.
- Playing on well maintained surfaces will help reduce the overall incidence of injury.
- Wearing proper footwear with good support and cushioning will also help keep the joints healthy for continued play.
The 3 Best Volleyball Stretches
Volleyball stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.
Below are 3 of the best stretches for volleyball; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 16). Volleyball, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Verhagen, E. Visnes, H. Bahr, R. (2017). Volleyball injury epidemiology and prevention. Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: Volleyball, 61-78.
- Gouttebarge, V. van Sluis, M. Verhagen, E. Zwerver, J. (2017). The prevention of musculoskeletal injuries in volleyball: the systematic development of an intervention and its feasibility. Injury Epidemiology, 4(1), 25.
- Rezende, F. Mota, G. Lopes, C. Silva, B. Simim, M. Marocolo, M. (2016). Specific warm-up exercise is the best for vertical countermovement jump in young volleyball players. Motriz: Revista de Educação Física, 22(4), 299-303.
- Lehnert, M. Sigmund, M. Lipinska, P. Vařeková, R. Hroch, M. Xaverova, Z. Stastny, P. Háp, P. Zmijewski, P. (2017). Training-induced changes in physical performance can be achieved without body mass reduction after eight week of strength and injury prevention oriented programme in volleyball female players. Biology of Sport, 34(2), 205.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.