Dealing With Injuries
If you’re active, your going to get hurt. It’s just a matter of time. If you’re accident prone, and you’re active, you’re going to get hurt even more. - I fall into the latter category.
Preventing InjuriesThe first thing I want to go over is how to prevent injuries. There is no way to completely prevent injuries, but there are ways you can minimize your chance of getting hurt. The first thing to do is, is strength and conditioning. Workout several days a week with the focus of slow and gradual growth. You don’t want to jump into training really hard and end up injuring yourself, so instead, go slow. Feel some discomfort in your workouts, but not pain. Another thing you can do is to work on your flexibility. It is perfectly safe to stretch every day, just make sure your muscles have warmed up before you try to gain flexibility (Before you try to reach further than you’ve ever reached.) Being flexible won’t completely prevent injuries from happening, but being limber can help stay out of situations where an injury may occur.
The Time of the Injury
All injuries are treated differently, so you need to find out from your doctor on how to handle them. Here are a couple common injuries to volleyball and how they are treated:
Ankle Sprain At the time of the injury, you will want to put ice on your ankle, and elevate it above your heart. This will help prevent swelling. You’ll likely be told to keep your shoe on, which helps minimize swelling. An x-ray is likely required to make sure you didn’t break your ankle. Ankle injuries can vary in intensity. Some people will be in a boot for 6-8 weeks, and some people will be told to rest a few days and then slowly return to volleyball.
Knee Injuries If you hurt your knee, you’ll ice and elevate again. You’ll need an x-ray and possibly an MRI to see exactly what happened, and then your rehab will follow. If you hurt your knee, the doctor will do a variety of tests to feel if your knee has too much movement. You will also be asked if you heard or felt a pop in your knee. Knee injuries can range from a 8-12 month recovery, to a few weeks based on the diagnosis.
Back Injuries There are all sorts potential back injuries. The most common in volleyball is an overuse injury, instead of an impact injury. The doctor will tell you how to handle whatever injury you have. If it’s an overuse injury, you may have to sit out for awhile and then address the problem of how you got the injury in the first place. A lot of times it’ due to lack or unbalance of muscles and/or something to do with your form.
Shoulders The most common shoulder injury is some kind of injury to the rotator cuff, likely from overuse. You’ll need follow your doctors instructions on when to begin physical therapy and when to return to training. You also need to address the overuse that is causing the injury. Another shoulder injury, which is much less common, is a dislocation of your shoulder. You’ll need to ice your shoulder right away, and see a doctor right away. X-rays and MRIs will likely follow.
Head Injuries are most often sustained due to a concussion. Your school or club or team, will likely have a concussion protocol in place and you will have to follow it precisely. A concussion must fully heal before you can play again, and this can take anywhere from a week to years. There is no telling how long your concussion will affect you, but you must make sure you are healed before you participate again. Concussions can cause all kinds of symptoms and you must see a concussion trained doctor for information if you sustain one.
After The Injury
After you have been seen by a doctor. You need to be diligent about following their instructions for follow up care. It happens too often that someone has an injury that is starting to feel better, so they go back to playing before they are cleared, only to get hurt again. Follow your doctors orders, even if you hate it.
You can likely still be improving
If you have your doctors permission to watch practice, you can and should go to practice with the intent to watch, learn and improve without actually participating. One reason a doctor might not let you back in the gym, is if you have a concussion, because stimulation can make it worse. Other than that, if you don’t participate, you will likely be granted permission to watch practice.
Believe it or not, you can actually get better by watching your teammates. You’re going to see things in a whole new light. You’ll see what your coach is talking about all the time. You can watch your teammate’s form, and then go watch a youtube video on some of the best players in the world. You can compare and contrast.
Becoming a better player doesn’t mean you have to participate. It means you have to be a student of the game. It’s not as fun, and the fun aspect of volleyball is probably why you’re playing, but it is part of the work-hard aspect.
Learn all you can and then spend time envisioning yourself doing what you have learned. If you visualize it, you’re going to have a better chance of achieving it.
Dealing With The Mental Stuff
Many injuries come with an unforeseen mental hurdle. For me, it was the first jump I tried after my first ACL repair. And no, I’m not talking about jumping to hit a ball, like a beastly hitter. I’m actually talking about being in physical therapy and jumping over a taped line on the floor.
Wholly smokes, I felt like I had to gather some courage for that little tiny jump. Your mental hurdle could be all kinds of different things but a common fear is that everyone else is getting better while you’re on the sidelines. And that’s hard to shake, especially if you’re out for a long period of time.
You know what though? The way I see it, most people honestly only put in about 70% of their total effort. Maybe not even that. Even if your the hardest working person on your team, I bet you don’t hit 100% max effort for 2 hours of practice. I bet there are times when you take an easier jump and easier swing. Or maybe there is a time when you’ve been up late at night studying and then are spaced out some at practice.
My point to that, is that you may be at 0% while you’re sitting out, but they aren’t at 100%. If you can invest mentality to improving, you are going to jump to say 20% of your effort level. Then in the off season, when everyone else is going to the beach, why don’t you up your game at that time? Put in 100% once you’re healthy, and you’ll be caught up in a jiffy.
But don’t let it keep you down.
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