Aubrey Bailey

I have been a Physical Therapist for the past 17 years and formerly held a personal trainer certification through the American College of Sports Medicine. I am also a current client of Chris Shaffer and have been coached by him for the past 12 months.

Throughout my physical therapy career, I have treated many adolescent athletes with overuse injuries. The primary underlying cause of these injuries was muscle imbalance — overuse of sports-specific muscles and weakness in the opposing muscle groups. In volleyball players, this typically shows up as rotator cuff injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented with regular participation in a strength and conditioning program that includes scapular stabilization exercises (such as “Y-T-A’s” with resistance tubing).

In addition to shoulder injuries, volleyball players are also at risk for back (and other) injuries.

In a research article “Overuse in Volleyball Training/Practice: A Review on Shoulder and Spine-Related Injuries” published in the European Journal of Sports Science that specifically discusses these issues. Here are a few highlights:

“The stresses that result from frequent spiking and jump serving, make low back and shoulder frequently prone to overuse problems. Both actions are characterised by simultaneous forceful hyperextension and rotation of the low back, as well as extreme shoulder external rotation (150 deg in spike/ serve), (Bahr & Reeser, 2003; Reeser, Fleisig, Cools, Yount, & Magnes, 2013).”

“Each body segment accelerates sequentially, transferring force and energy to the next segments, and imparting maximum velocity to the ball.”

“Developing trunk muscle motor control, kinesthetic awareness, endurance, and coordination is more important than developing absolute strength-power, particularly for female volleyball players. However, having an adequate trunk muscle strength-power reserve is needed for unpredictable events such as the quick, unanticipated movements that routinely occur with athletic activities such as volleyball.” 

This article clearly demonstrates the importance of whole-body functional strength and conditioning, specifically for injury prevention in volleyball players. Core strengthening and endurance exercises for the abdominals and back muscles (such as supermans and hollow holds) are a crucial component of a well-rounded conditioning program. Functional movement training such as squats and jump-training strengthen the posterior chain — power muscles along the spine and back of the legs. These same muscles are responsible for providing a stable base for arm movements, helping to reduce risk of shoulder injury.

Jumping technique training is a particularly important component of conditioning, particularly for female athletes. This population in particular is at a higher risk of ACL ligament tears in the knee. Another article that emphasizes the importance of this type of training – “Jumping and Landing Techniques in Elite Women’s Volleyball” published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. Here are a couple of highlights from that article:

Physical training (relative to strength and technique) may be the most practical and effective modality for preventing injuries related to landing from a jump.

Researchers, physicians, therapists, trainers, coaches, and athletes should focus on factors that are controllable in an effort to reduce injuries in volleyball. The most promising possibilities appear to be increasing strength, improving conditioning, and modifying jump-landing techniques. 

Chris Shaffer’s strength and conditioning programs address all of the areas discussed above. He provides biomechanically-sound programming to condition the athlete as a whole person, not just focusing on a specific muscle group. I highly recommend his program not only for athletes looking to improve their sports performance, but for anyone looking to improve their overall health and quality of life.


Dr. Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Hand Therapist

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