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Sports Medicine Feature

Source: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello, Wikimedia Commons and Mikael Häggström

Volleyball: Blocking the Cause of Most Ankle Injuries

Tracey Romero • Thu, January 4th, 2018

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The traditional school of thought in sports medicine when it comes to ankle injuries in volleyball has always been that they occur in a plantarflexed position, but a new study suggests otherwise.

In “Landing-related ankle injuries do not occur in plantarflexion as once thought: a systematic video analysis of ankle injuries in world-class volleyball,” published in the January 2018 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers suggest that it is not landing in a plantarflexed position, but blocking that causes the most ankle injuries in volleyball.

The researchers analyzed videos of 24 injuries from major International Volleyball Federation tournaments (14 men and 10 women) through the federation’s injury surveillance system. Specific situations and mechanisms leading to the injuries were determined from the videos.

According to the data, most of the ankle injuries occurred during blocking (n = 15) and attacking (n = 6). When the blocker was injured it was either because they landed on an opponent (n = 11) or a teammate (n = 4). Attacking injuries most often occurred when a back-row players landed on a front-row teammate (n=4 of 6).

The researchers wrote, “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. Injuries mostly resulted from rapid inversion without any substantial plantarflexion.”

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

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