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Study Pinpoints Likely Injuries To High School Volleyball Players

DALLAS - Ankle and foot injuries are most likely in high school girls' volleyball during jumping, spiking or blocking, according to the first phase of a study by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).

The three-year study researched injuries recorded by certified athletic trainers for 87 high school volleyball teams across the country. The study is designed to show trends on what, when, how and where injuries occur to high school volleyball players. It is conducted by John Powell, PhD, ATC.

Specifically, the first phase of the study shows 65.7 percent of ankle and foot injuries to high school volleyball players happen during a spiking or blocking attempt.

"It's vitally important for parents and school representatives to realize the impact of a sports-related injury, regardless of its severity, and the power they have to prevent it," Powell said. "Injuries have negative repercussions beyond the injured athlete and his or her career. It impacts performance of his or her team, all of which can be minimized with access to an ATC."

Yet less than 42 percent of U.S. high schools have access to a certified athletic trainer (ATC) to teach student athletes how to prevent injuries and to recognize and treat the injuries that do occur, according to the NATA.

Overall, the study indicates female volleyball players at the high school level are most likely to injure their ankles and feet (35.6%); hips, thighs or legs (16.2%); or forearms, wrists or hands (15.8%). In addition, experts say the most common injuries normally are sprains, instant injuries to muscles (48.6%); or strains, a traumatic injury to a ligament or joint that appears more gradually (25.5%).

In addressing study findings on the more common ankle and foot injuries in high school volleyball, ATCs recommend players and their parents consider:

  • Focusing on the strength and conditioning of muscles used for jumping, as well as the lower legs;
  • Ensuring that footwear used is properly designed and fitted, as shoes that don't fit allow too much or not enough movement of the foot;
  • Encouraging schools to use an ATC to provide early identification and proper management of minor injuries to minimize the risk of more severe injuries.

"The results from our injury surveillance study are an invaluable tool to the association's 23,000 members," said NATA President Kent Falb, ATC, PT, head athletic trainer for the Detroit Lions. "ATCs can actively minimize the risk of the most common injuries to high school athletes through education and participation in the planning of their conditioning programs."

The NATA, based in Dallas, provides the latest research and techniques to its 17,000+ certified members, who are experts in providing quality healthcare for the physically active.

The NATA was founded in 1950 and today serves more than 23,000 athletic trainers worldwide.