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Tips and Tricks: Preventing and Healing Volleyball Injuries (Part 3)

In our last article, Acupuncturist Corey Miller shared some ways to help heal injuries associated with volleyball. Here are the rest of her secrets she has provided to Digsantacruz in our interview. (For Secret #1 and extra tips, go to the first part of this article HERE)

Corey’s Secret # 2: Alter Your Attitude on Recovery Days and Receive Radical Healing Benefits

We all want to play volleyball seven days a week. Why wouldn’t we? It’s fun, it’s outdoors, includes awesome people, and is great exercise. But I will wager that some of you think you are wimpy and something is wrong with you if you can’t pull off seven days a week of playing and not feel achy, sore and in pain.

In my clinic this is one of my clients biggest complaints: “I just can’t play as much as I used to and I want to get back to playing like that again.” I understand and  sympathize, and I want to give people what they want... but I also have an obligation to coach my clients to health and remind them that pushing through pain is not the fastest or the best way to heal, and it often limits our playing time rather than increasing it.

When we are working our muscles on the court, we are twisting, pushing, jumping, hitting, squatting, and falling. That quick burst of energy that stops at a moment’s notice to land a perfect platform for a perfect pass, and then the zoom to hit the ball... all of these actions work, build, and utilize all of our muscles.

Our muscles are like amazing ropes. Each one is not one band of muscle, but hundreds of tiny strings wrapped up together to make one strong cord that moves and bends to our will. Each time we use that muscle and make it stronger, we are also tearing little microfibers in our tissue, (which makes us sore), and only (I said ONLY) when we rest, those tears in our muscle fibers fill in to heal and become a bigger, stronger muscle. If we overuse that muscle after we have torn it... we only become more sore and more prone to injury.

To simplify: Over-training leads to injury. Rest leads to stronger and healthier muscles. That is why rest really is best!


Take a few days out of the week and use these rest and recovery tips:

I. Recovery Days:

The amount of days depends on each individual, but fill these days with something else you love to do. Go Swimming, take a yoga class, sign up for that art class you always  wanted. Stretch! Take note that doing some other crazy hard workout does NOT make for a recovery day. Really, recovery days are to rest the mind, body, and spirit, so that you can come back and dominate on the next days you are at the courts.

ii. Drink Water

A vast amount of us are dehydrated. Water makes up a huge amount of our cells and helps lubricate joints and organs. A simple formula to make sure you are getting enough water is:

a. Take how much you weigh in pounds,

b. divide that number by two,    

c. take that number and that is how many ounces of water you should be drinking a day. (i.e. If you weigh 200 lbs/2= 100 oz of water a day).

iii. Get enough Protein:

Protein is the building block of our muscles. Making sure you get enough protein daily helps you heal and repair muscles. Getting our nutritional needs from whole, organic foods is always best but it is not always possible. Another option is to use protein powders. Protein powders are great snacks or meal replacements. The options are many and sometimes overwhelming but protein powders that are free of fillers and chemicals are good supplements to your training recovery. Quality counts and is important for all supplements and functional medical foods. Each person needs a specific amount and type of protein so ask your Acupuncturist, Nutritionist or health coach for your own personalized formula.


Secret # 3: Prevent Body Break Downs with A Maintenance Team

We all want to stay active and healthy and play volleyball as long as possible. My personal goal is to play volleyball into my 80’s (My inspirations are the legends that play three-on-three down at Dream Inn­. They RULE!). I know that in order to achieve this goal, my body maintenance is key. The importance of body maintenance is true for everyone and everything.

We brush our teeth two times a day and floss at least once AND see a dentist regularly. We do it because we know cavities will be visiting us soon if we don’t. We take our cars in for tire rotations, oil changes and wiper blade exchanges because our cars are a huge investment that we want to take care of. But, do we really make that kind of commitment to our bodies?

After my injury in my teens, I realized, that our bodies are amazing but not invincible. Our bodies will do what we ask of them until they literally break. And sometimes they break without warning. If we want to perform and play at our own personal best (I am talking to everyone from beginners to professionals ) we must take care of our bodies in return.

Of course as a healthcare practitioner I have to walk my talk. So my personal body maintenance routine includes: 1 massage, 1 acupuncture treatment and 1 chiropractic treatment a month. More if I feel I pushed it too hard, or if a flare-up is just around the bend. I also do yoga, meditate, and take a hot bath frequently because it relaxes my mind, body and spirit.

I encourage all of my clients to build their own routine and care team. Each person has different needs, so your personal maintenance plan and team may be different. Some ideas include:

            Coaching: Find a coach you love and trust, have them prevent injuries with you by making sure your technique is perfect.

Cross-­Training Class: A personal trainer, pilates, or yoga instructor are good examples of some people who can help you build other muscles that support your game.

Chiropractic: Commonly know as bone doctors, are really nerve doctors that prevent and heal compressions in the spine that lead to pinched nerves and herniated discs.

Physical Therapists: Get some at home exercises from them that help you build strength and prevent injury in those tiny muscle groups like the rotator cuff.

Massage: From the relaxing kind to deep tissue kind, all types of massage has benefits.

I am not attached to you using one modality over the other, but I am attached to people using the amazing resources we have in Santa Cruz to their advantage. I choose to practice acupuncture because it helps mind and body and treats each person individually. Not everyone with shoulder pain will be the same. It keeps me interested and invested in each person’s individual case.