Causes of Common Injuries: Volleyball Players and Runners

 In Sports Performance Training

What athletic trainer hasn’t known a volleyball player with a history of sprained ankles or a runner who complained of chronic low back pain? New research has uncovered possible causes for these common injuries.

Sports medicine experts have traditionally believed that ankle injuries in volleyball players are most likely to happen when players land in a plantarflexed position. However, an article from Orthopedics This Week reports that a new analysis suggests most ankle injuries come from blocking or landing on someone else’s foot. This finding came from analyzing videos from major International Volleyball Federation tournaments.

“When landing on an opponent under the net, the attacker landed into the opponent’s court in 11 of 12 situations, but without violating the center line rule,” the study authors wrote. “Injuries mostly resulted from rapid inversion without any substantial plantarflexion.

“The majority of injuries occur while blocking, often landing on an opponent,” they continued. “The attacker is overwhelmingly to blame for injuries at the net secondary to crossing the center line.”

Regarding back pain in runners, researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center believe that runners who have weaker deep core muscles have a higher risk of developing low back pain. As reported by ScienceDaily, they used force-measuring floor plates and motion detection technology to determine this.

“We measured the dimensions of runners’ bodies and how they moved to create a computer model that’s specific to that person. That allows us to examine how every bone moves and how much pressure is put on each joint,” Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, FACSM, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Biomedical Engineering at the Wexner Medical Center, said. “We can then use that simulation to virtually ‘turn off’ certain muscles and observe how the rest of the body compensates.”

Their model showed that when the deep core muscles are weak, the body compensated to allow the athlete to run in the same way. But this often meant increasing the load on the spine, which could be related to developing low back pain.

The researchers noted that many athletes turn to ab exercises like sit-ups or back extensions to help strengthen their core. Yet, these exercises do not build the deep core that is needed to improve as a runner. Instead, Dr. Chaudhari suggests using exercises that stabilize the core, such as planks.

“Working on a six-pack and trying to become a better runner is definitely not the same thing. If you look at great runners, they don’t typically have a six-pack, but their muscles are very fit,” Dr. Chaudhari said. “Static exercises that force you to fire your core and hold your body in place are what’s really going to make you a better runner.”

 


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