Joints & Muscles Used in Volleyball

Keep well-toned upper and lower-body muscles to play volleyball.

Keep well-toned upper and lower-body muscles to play volleyball.

Volleyball is a game of agility that requires two main skills: Jumping and swinging. These two moves call for you to engage major muscles -- the glutes, quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, shoulders extensors and flexors, and wrist flexors -- as well as the joints attached to them: Ankles, hips, knees, shoulders and wrists. Knowing which body parts supports your game can help you create a targeted practice to improve your performance.

Ankles

When you play volleyball, you flex the muscles of your ankles, which are your calves and more formally known as the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris muscles. The ankle joint and the calves make it possible for you to push yourself off the ground and jump. Toning these muscles before you hit the court helps prevent calf strain, a common problem among athletes.

Hips

As you jump, your hip joint is extended by the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and hamstring muscles. The glutes also keep your pelvis stable during movement, preventing falls. When you overuse your gluteal muscles by repetitively doing an activity that puts stress on them, you can cause gluteal strain. The condition is painful and it occurs when your glutes tear. As you play volleyball, know that tight muscles in need of conditioning are more prone to strain than fit gluteal muscles. Measures such as stretching, maintaining good posture and allowing your body to rest all help prevent injury.

Knees

Along with your hips and ankles, the knees make it possible to complete a jump during a volleyball match. Four muscles collectively known as the quadriceps -- the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis – support the knee action and allow you to straighten your legs. Repetitive jumping over a long period of time might cause tears in the quadriceps tendon. The probability for this type of injury increases as you get older.

Shoulders and Elbows

The shoulder joints play an essential role in volley ball, allowing you to raise and swing your arms to deliver a blow to the ball. The shoulder flexors help raise the arm and the shoulder extensors get into action when you hit the ball. The anterior deltoid, clavicular head of the pectoralis major and the coracobrachialis make up the set of flexors. The extensors comprise the latissimus dorsi, the sternal head of the pectoralis major and the teres major muscles. Your triceps support elbow movement as you extend your arm towards the ball. The player who's fastest at extending the shoulders has the advantage over other players because she can hit the ball with the most power and speed, writes Allen Scates and his coauthors in “Complete Conditioning for Volleyball.”

Wrists

You couldn’t play volleyball without engaging your wrist flexors: The carpi radialis, carpi ulnaris, digitorum superficialis and pollicis longus. These muscles are on the front of your forearms and they contract when you move your wrists forward to hit the ball.

 

About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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