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Are you ready to dive into the thrilling world of water polo?

Beware, it’s not all just splashes and fun.

Common water polo sport injuries lurk beneath the surface, waiting to strike unsuspecting players!

From shoulder woes to ankle sprains, this article takes a deep dive into the many hazards that lie in the wake of this popular aquatic sport.

Protect yourself from the fear of the unknown and gain knowledge on how to prevent water polo injuries to keep you safe underwater.

Dive in and let’s explore together!

Shoulder injuries (rotator cuff, labrum)

Shoulder injuries are common in water polo due to the repetitive overhead throwing motion, which places stress on the shoulder joint.

Rotator cuff injuries can involve strains, tears, or inflammation, causing pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Labrum injuries, such as a torn labrum, result from damage to the cartilage that surrounds and stabilizes the shoulder joint.

Both types of injuries can significantly impact a player’s ability to swim, pass, and shoot effectively.

Hand injuries (fractures, dislocations)

Hand injuries in water polo often result from collisions with other players or the ball, leading to fractures or dislocations of the fingers.

These types of injuries can be particularly debilitating for players, as they rely heavily on their hands for swimming, ball control, and shooting.

Proper treatment, including immobilization and rehabilitation exercises, is critical for players to regain full use of their hand and return to competition.

Eye injuries (from ball impact or underwater contact)

Eye injuries in water polo can result from direct impact with the ball or accidental underwater contact with another player.

These injuries can range from minor discomfort to more severe cases involving corneal abrasions or even retinal detachment.

Protective goggles can help prevent some eye injuries, but players must also be aware of their surroundings and practice good sportsmanship to minimize risks.

Wrist injuries (sprains, strains)

Wrist injuries are prevalent in water polo due to the repetitive, forceful motions required to pass and shoot the ball.

Sprains and strains occur when the ligaments or tendons in the wrist become overstretched or torn.

These injuries can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility, affecting a player’s ability to perform effectively in the pool.

Proper conditioning and strengthening exercises can help prevent wrist injuries in water polo players.

Head injuries (concussions)

Head injuries, such as concussions, can occur in water polo as a result of collisions with other players or being struck by the ball.

Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty concentrating. Prompt evaluation and treatment are crucial to minimize the risk of long-term complications.

Players should also be educated about concussion symptoms and the importance of reporting any suspected injuries.

Cuts and abrasions (from physical contact)

Cuts and abrasions in water polo are often caused by physical contact with other players, the pool walls, or the playing equipment.

These injuries are typically minor but can be painful and lead to infection if not treated properly.

Water polo players should keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered to promote healing and prevent complications.

Elbow injuries (tennis elbow)

Elbow injuries, such as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, are common in water polo due to the repetitive forearm and wrist motions required for passing and shooting.

These injuries involve inflammation and pain in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow.

Rest, ice, and rehabilitation exercises are essential for managing tennis elbow and preventing further injury.

How to Treat Water Polo Sport Injuries

  1. Shoulder injuries like rotator cuff or labrum injuries can benefit from rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with physical therapy and strengthening exercises. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair torn or damaged tissues.
  2. Hand injuries such as fractures or dislocations require immediate medical attention for proper alignment and immobilization. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises will help restore strength and mobility to the hand as it heals.
  3. Eye injuries need prompt evaluation and treatment from an eye care professional. Minor injuries may involve rest and eye drops, while more severe cases might require surgery or other interventions to prevent vision loss.
  4. Wrist injuries: For sprains and strains, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is typically the first step in treatment. Physical therapy or occupational therapy can help with rehabilitation and strengthening exercises for the wrist.
  5. Head injuries, particularly concussions, require immediate evaluation and treatment from a healthcare provider. Rest, both physical and mental, is essential for recovery, and a gradual return to play should be guided by a medical professional.
  6. Cuts and abrasions should be cleaned thoroughly, treated with antibiotic ointment, and covered with a bandage or sterile dressing to promote healing and prevent infection.
  7. Elbow injuries, such as tennis elbow, can be managed with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises are also helpful in preventing further injury.

How to Prevent Water Polo Sport Injuries

Injuries are an unfortunate part of water polo, but prevention strategies can reduce risks and keep athletes in top form.

This guide offers tips for avoiding common water polo injuries and staying healthy in the pool.

  • Warm up and stretch for at least 15-20 minutes before engaging in water polo activities. Focus on the shoulders, wrists, neck, back, and leg muscles.
  • Wear protective gear, such as mouth guards and goggles, when necessary to protect against potential eye and dental injuries.
  • Strengthen muscles regularly through resistance training and swimming exercises to support and protect joints.
  • Use proper technique when passing, shooting, and swimming to reduce strain on muscles and tendons.
  • Practice awareness of other players’ positions and movements during the game, as collisions can cause head and hand injuries.
  • Adhere to the rules of the game, and practice good sportsmanship to minimize aggressive or unsafe behaviors.
  • Rest and recover from minor injuries or fatigue to prevent them from developing into more serious issues.
  • Seek professional help when experiencing persistent pain or symptoms to ensure appropriate care and treatment.


What are some common shoulder injuries in water polo?

Shoulder injuries in water polo, such as rotator cuff and labrum injuries, are common due to the repetitive overhead throwing motion. These injuries can cause pain, weakness, and impair a player’s ability to swim, pass, and shoot effectively.

How are hand injuries typically treated in water polo?

Hand injuries, such as fractures or dislocations, require proper treatment including immobilization and rehabilitation exercises. This ensures players regain full use of their hand and can return to competition.

What can cause eye injuries in water polo, and how can they be prevented?

Eye injuries in water polo result from direct impact with the ball or accidental underwater contact with another player. Wearing protective goggles and practicing good sportsmanship can help minimize risks.

What is the best way to prevent and treat wrist injuries in water polo players?

Proper conditioning and strengthening exercises can help prevent wrist injuries. If an injury occurs, treatment includes rest, ice, and rehabilitation exercises for the affected wrist.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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