If you’re looking to switch up your boring workout for something more fun, exciting, and intense, you might want to consider volleyball. Volleyball is a popular sport both professionally and casually. This is because it’s an easy sport for people of all fitness types to learn, but it can also be highly competitive once you gain enough skill and experience. However, it’s also possible to sustain a volleyball injury. The most common injuries include knee, ankle, shoulder, and back injuries. You can also injure your hands, fingers, or pretty much anywhere else on your body.

To avoid an injury, you will want to invest in some quality protective gear and learn how to properly warm up for a game.

Protective equipment for volleyball doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, your gear should be relatively simple and flexible in comparison to the gear commonly used in other sports. The ideal gear for volleyball should protect your knees, ankles, elbows, and other common injury areas. If you plan on playing volleyball regularly, you’ll want to buy a good set of knee and elbow pads and ankle braces to protect your most vulnerable areas. A quality pair of volleyball shoes is essential. These shoes are specially constructed to be flexible and breathable. They will allow you to make the quick movements typical of volleyball games, including jumping, lunging, and sprinting. Protective equipment may not completely protect you against rug burns, sprains, or fractures, but they are far preferable to playing a game with no gear at all.

You should always properly warm up before participating in any sport. This goes beyond doing a few jumping jacks, although a good warmup should be simple and brief. After dressing for the game, take a few minutes to stretch all your major muscles. Slowly and gently lean into the stretch as you limber up the ligaments and muscles in your legs, arms, shoulders, and back. Don’t bounce as you stretch, or you might injure yourself even before getting in the game. After stretching, you can do some jumping jacks or jog around the court for a few minutes to get your body ready to move. Once you’re done playing, cool down by slowly walking it off for a couple minutes. You can avoid next-day soreness by stretching again. Of course, you’ll always want to have a water bottle on hand both during and after a game to replenish the fluids you’ve lost through sweating. These above tips can help you stay in the game by avoiding injuries. For more information on volleyball injuries and gear, look through the following infographic provided by AllVolleyball.com.

Anatomy of a Volleyball Player [Infographic]