Volleyball is a way to remain active and socialize year round

After beginning a fitness and weight loss program, involvement in a team sport can provide added incentive as well as a social dimension. One obstacle is that few team sports can be played year-round.

Volleyball is not only a year-round sport, but it can be played in a variety of different venues including indoors, outdoors and on a sunny beach. Ski resorts will often sponsor snow volleyball tournaments. This week, competitive volleyball will come to the Mohegan Sun Arena in the form of indoor beach volleyball.

Volleyball is a highly competitive sport at the high school, college and Olympic levels. Although few competitors move on to a professional volleyball tour, most participants are recreational athletes who enjoy competition, camaraderie and staying fit.

Deb Bagni has been playing recreational volleyball for 22 years. She currently plays in a highly competitive women’s league in West Haven, Conn.

“The level of recreational player varies between those who are former collegiate volleyball players, as in this group, to those who may just join a league for a night out with friends,” Bagni said.

Many travel to different towns each week and play in multiple programs.

Most municipal recreation departments sponsor leagues. The Connecticut Sports Center in Woodbridge hosts many indoor leagues for all levels of ability.

Volleyball requires both upper and lower extremity strength and flexibility. There are a wide variety of injuries associated with volleyball, especially those involving the shoulder, knee and ankle joints. These injuries range from acute tears and dislocations to chronic tendonitis and arthritis.

An active stretching program should be followed before competing and between matches. Jumping jacks are a good way to warm up right before going on the court.

A weekly volleyball game alone is not sufficient to attain cardiovascular fitness. Volleyball should serve as a sport that complements a regular daily fitness program that includes both aerobic and resistive components, along with a healthy diet.

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is Chief of Neurology at The William W. Backus Hospital and in private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC, in Norwich. E-mail him at aalessi@wwbh.org, or listen to his podcasts, comment on his blog or buy his book at backushospital.org.

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