Tips and Tricks: Preventing and Healing Volleyball Injuries (Part 2)

In our last article we went over volleyball injury prevention with Dylan Murray, DC. Today our interview is with Corey Miller, acupuncturist who owns and runs Watsonville Community Acupuncture and Corey Miller Acupuncture. 

You may have seen Corey out on the courts over the last few years, joyfully learning the art and sport of volleyball. 

“During my almost 10 years of clinical study and practice I have helped people reduce pain and recover from sport injuries, coached on injury prevention and athletic longevity. My tools of trade include acupuncture (of course), trigger point therapy, Chinese massage, nutrition, functional medicine and life coaching.”

Here's how Corey got into the realm of therapy:

“When I was 17 and a senior in high school, it seemed the world was at my feet. Just named Santa Cruz County Athlete of the Year and heading off to play water polo for the elite, nationally ranked University of California Water Polo team... I thought nothing could stop me. But that summer, while lifeguarding at Santa Cruz State Beaches, I had back to back injuries that changed my sports career and my life.”

When Corey blew out her knee and then a few months later ruptured a disc in her back from an ocean surf rescue, it left her bedridden for weeks and in pain for years.

“That injury gave me an understanding of what it is like to live with chronic pain. The care I received to get back to health is what lead me to become an acupuncturist and help other athletes “stay in the game”.”

This is what spurred on Corey to work with others’ injuries.

“Even if you just take one tidbit of information from these secrets, it could alter your injury prevention and sports longevity, so enjoy!” 

3 secrets to Injury Free Volleyball According to Corey:

Secret # 1:

Know your Body To Reduce Pain and Injury

Our bodies are truly miraculous! So many working parts that allow us to move, bend, twist, jump and hit. Oh yes, the hit... the crowd pleasing, offensive strike of a perfect play... pow! You just smack that ball in some amazing way that keeps your opponents from touching it. We all love that, but do we love the pain in our shoulders after?

Now, I’m sure many  of you know about the rotator cuff and how it plays a huge role in shoulder health and function, so I want to teach you something perhaps you don’t know...

The referenced picture is a trigger point in a really important muscle that is a major player in our hitting force: the latissimus dorsi (AKA Lat).

This muscle helps us rotate our arms and hit the ball hard... but as you can see in this photo if it gets irritated it can also cause pain in the front and back of your shoulder.

Often in my clinic, a client will come to me with shoulder pain and I start testing muscle groups and trigger points in other places than where it actually hurts. Why? Because our bodies are integrated and connected and just because it hurts in one spot, doesn’t mean it is the origin of the pain. This is a perfect example.... if the Lat gets over-trained and strained from all that hitting, twisting and bending, it can cause pain in all of these little red dots.

By knowing the origin of your pain you can heal faster, stay better for longer, and prevent flare-­ups in the future. 

Wonder if you have any pain that stems from your Lat? Try this test and exercise:

i.Take a tennis ball and gently lay on it as shown in the picture. You might be surprised by how sore it is... do you feel pain anywhere else besides where the ball is?

ii. Gently roll on tennis ball (foam roller works too) for a few minutes. (Be careful not to over do it because you could get really sore) and see how your arm and shoulder feels the next day. If you are sore the next day, do less. If you feel good, continue with gentle rolls the next day.

iii. Do this nightly for 7-­10 days and then 3 times a week to prevent flare ups in shoulder pain while you train.

Your body is full of trigger points like these. Sore calfs, hurting knees and backs, restless legs, all could be helped and maintained with techniques of trigger point methods. 

Corey teaches her clients about these areas of the body because knowing about them and having tools to heal them keeps us playing the sports we love and living a life we enjoy.


We hope this tip helped! Check out Corey's next two secrets in our next article. 

Editor's note: DigSantaCruz is not responsible if you choose to try any of the methods found in this article. Please use your own discretion when attempting any of the above tips & tricks.