With the conclusion of the 2015 AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) season, many professional beach volleyball players are heading into their post season recovering from an intense summer of travel, sun and a whole lot of play time. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of these talented young men in my yoga classes and you better believe one of their main requests is for shoulder work, especially work that targets the rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is a series of four muscles that can be found surrounding your scapula that include the supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor (Biel, 2001). While all 4 tendons wrap around the head of the Humerus, the supraspinatus begins at the supraspinatus fossa, the infraspinatus and teres minor are just below in the infraspinous fossa. Finally, the subscapularis is squeezed between the subscapular fossa and serratus anterior muscle, between your ribs and scapula. All four muscles allow you to raise and rotate the arm and play an integral role in stabilizing the glenohumeral joint (aka the shoulder joint).
Many athletes who play sports that involve repetitive overhead motions tend to suffer from some sort of rotator cuff pain/tension or injury, and it is never pretty. Some common injuries that volleyball players may face include tendonitis or partial tears. This is typically due to overuse especially among positions that involve blocking and hitting. In beach volleyball, both players have the responsibility for these two prime overhead movements throughout the whole game placing them at higher risk for rotator cuff injuries. These overhead motions requires the rotator cuff muscles to handle the dynamic stability of the shoulder against larger muscles that generate large amounts force, such as the pectoralis major and deltoid muscles. Eventually the force generated by the larger powerhouse muscles impedes the ability for the smaller rotator cuff muscles to continue to stabilize the shoulder due to fatigue, which leaves them at risk for injury ((Christopher & Ricard, 2001).
So what to do? It is great for athletes to take advantage of the off season to reassess and build upon their current strength and mobility routine. If it is not being done already, adding rotator cuff targeted care can enhance shoulder health and promote longevity in what could potentially be a long career on the beach. There are many Yoga Tune Up® poses that can be used as tools to do just that. Tune in on Friday for my favorite exercise that will show your rotator cuff some much needed TLC, regardless of if you are an overhead athlete or not!
- Biel, Andrew. Trail Guide to the Body. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: of Discovery., 2001. 76-100. Print.
- Christopher, G., & Ricard, M. (2001). Shoulder biomechanics in volleyball spiking: Implications for injuries. Uta.Edu, 1992.