November 24, 2017

Volleyball: a contact sport

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The phrase “contact sport” is often associated in America with sports where two people collide, or engage in an activity with the potential of a collision — football, hockey, rugby and the like.

After last Thursday, though, my idea of a contact sport has been redefined.

My girlfriend and I spent about 90 minutes playing pickup volleyball. The aches and soreness I felt afterward were akin to my high school football days. Ah, the memories. Waking up on Saturday feeling like someone dumped a skidsteer bucket full of sandbags on my unconscious body, walking upstairs after the game and being struck by a calf or hamstring cramp suddenly (thankfully avoiding a full tumble down the staircase), stinging in my fingers and hands, bruising on my cleat-stomped feet.

OK, so Friday there were no bruises from cleats (impractical footwear for indoor volleyball). But there were plenty of other aches and pains. The first time I hit the ball, it hurt my wrist. My first attempt at a bump, which sent the ball zipping on a 45-degree angle out of bounds to my left, stung my forearms. A jammed finger here, a nearly rolled ankle there it all added up.

For me, the lingering pain was mostly in my right knee and wrist. My body was definitely aware I did something outside of my normal workouts and recognized a foreign physical activity had occurred. But I must confess, I didn’t get the worst of it.

Almost immediately once the games began, a hit by my girlfriend resulted in a popped blood vessel in her wrist. Her forearm and bicep on the same arm sported matching bruises.

It’s no secret that if someone is physically inactive for a long period of time, almost any sort of activity will hurt. Neither Rachel nor I, though, are inactive. We both have gym memberships and enjoy going on walks and paddle boarding. The quick, sudden movements and occasional jumping of volleyball seemed to pose little threat to us.

What we didn’t account for was the ball itself. Sure, a volleyball seems harmless. When you’re playing against people who send serves flying over the net as fast as a Justin Verlander fastball and slap spikes that explode like grenades on your arms, the ball is so much more than a stitched and inflated leather sphere.

Some people (not me) even hit the ground during volleyball — dropping to a knee or, even worse, diving. On purpose!

Volleyball might seem like a sport that has less chance of resulting in an injury than some of the more traditional contact sports, but trust me, there’s nothing noncontact about it.

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