August 27, 2012

Volleyball Shoulder Injury and the NLI

Hi Coach,

My daughter is a 6’2” OH and committed after nationals between her sophomore and junior years.  She is now a senior.  Between club and High school, she plays a lot of volleyball and does a ton of hard swinging.  As most committed players do, she went to the summer camp immediately following 4 days of tough open division play in Ohio.  On the second day of camp she had to bail on serving and hitting because her shoulder was causing her a lot of pain.  She said the coaches didn’t seem concerned about it.  After camp she took about 10 days off then went into High School season.   

To make a long story short, the pain is back after about 3 weeks of play and she came to me saying “this isn’t good”.  I told her high school coach not to play her as a hitter or server for a while.   With signing coming up in Nov, I’m concerned that this could turn into injury and affect that process.  I really think it would be best if she didn’t play at all in High School and took the season off to strength train and give her shoulder some real down time.  But, of course, she does not want to miss out on playing her senior year.

I have a couple of questions:

1.       Should I be concerned about this shoulder pain (which seems to be worsening with continued play) affecting her NLI signing?

2.       What would you do if your daughter was in this situation?

Concerned Dad

Get her into see an orthopedic sports doctor and get a MRI.  DON'T rely on trainers; in a broad sense, doctors know, trainers guess.

One of two things is going on:

1.  Severe tendonitis which hurts but is treatable without surgery.  

2.  Rotator cuff or shoulder labrum tear - This is what you don't want because it requires shoulder surgery.

If it took about three weeks of HS practice for the pain/soreness to return, then that is a good sign because it usually means tendonitis.  If her shoulder hurt immediately after taking 10 days off, then I would have bet on a shoulder tear.

But, again, go get an MRI just to make sure there is not shoulder tears and damage.  If the MRI shows a tear, then she will need surgery and you want to get this done ASAP.  Depending on the particulars (labrum capsule or rotator cuff muscles), the recovery time can be anywhere from 3 months to 12 months (just think about how ESPN says a pro pitcher is out for a year because of surgery).  You will also need to communicate this fact to the collegiate coach ASAP - The majority of coaches will be disappointed but know it happens, and would redshirt her to make sure she recovers - we all learn not to rush shoulder recoveries.  If the coach reacts negatively, then you want to know this now, so you can make adjustments/revamp the recruiting effort instead of being 'surprised' come November.

If it is just tendonitis, then she will need to start a comprehensive shoulder rehabilitative and strengthening routine.  Initially it means rest, ice, ultrasound stim and anti-inflammatories (like Aleve, which was the prescription anti inflammatory drug when I played).  After her soreness moderates, then she will engage upon a shoulders strengthening plan which all baseball pitchers do no matter what.  The reality is that she has swung so much, her shoulder muscle cage has weakened, and this weakness results in tendonitis.  By engaging in a rotator cuff and shoulder strengthening plan, her shoulder joint will stabilize and get back to being strong enough to handle the swings.

She must strengthen it because what she will be doing in college is much more intense than what she did in club - Hard to fathom but true.

1.  Yes, you should be concerned about her shoulder affecting the NLI.  As I pointed out, hopefully her collegiate coach is old school, but many AD's have become so focused on money that they will not provide medical support if there is any documentation of shoulder issues and the Training room mandates you send in all medical histories.  So, even if she signs her NLI and then the shoulder pain hits again after the 1st week of the season, you could really be in a bad spot because the school would have no issues cutting her.

2.  My daughter would immediately stop swinging, go get an MRI and we would proceed as MRI dictated; either surgery or intense rehab routine - and HS Volleyball would be very, very low on the priority list.

Good luck and take the lead in managing this situation.


1 comment:

  1. If it is tendonitis, I would highly recommend a good acupuncturist... mine has done wonders for my tendonitis/tendonosis issues all over my body due to too much repetition


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