Sports Health Tips

Ask the Jock Doc

Ask the Jock Doc is brought to you by the experts at UC San Diego Health. We have experience in taking care of the best as the Official Care Provider of the San Diego Padres, and team physicians for the San Diego Sockers, SeaLions and our own UCSD Tritons. We have also been designated as an Official U.S. Olympic Regional Medical Center.

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Nutrition / Medications

Eating Disorders

My friend and I are on the cross country team, and I think she has an eating disorder. She says that she’s a vegetarian, but she eats next to nothing and drinks only water all day. Even though she had a stress fracture last year she’s running again this season. What should I do?

What are the effects of an eating disorder on an athlete's body?

Where can I get support for an eating disorder or body image issue?

Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)

My son is a high school athlete and wants every advantage going into a competition. I’m sure that it’s tempting to think about using performing-enhancing drugs (PEDs) because the kids talk about them. What are the risks vs. the benefits of PEDs?

What was the original purpose of PEDs?

What's the impact of PEDs on the female body?

Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDS)

Before working out, I’ll sometimes pop a couple ibuprofen to prevent pain or inflammation. Is there any reason NOT to do this?

What if I'm in pain after a workout? Can I take ibuprofen then?

Weight Loss

I’m a junior in the middle of wrestling season. We try to compete as lean as possible to gain an advantage over opponents in our same weight class. I’ll do whatever it takes to win, but I feel pretty weak after fasting and working out hard to sweat my weight down. Any suggestions?

How can I lose weight in a safe, healthy way?

Any advice on what to eat or not eat after a weigh-in?

Post-Workout Foods

Since beer has carbohydrates in it, can having a few brews after a game or competition help with muscle recovery?

What should I eat or drink after a game?


My kids and I often skip breakfast, but we get plenty of exercise during the day. What’s the real deal on breakfast – is it really that important?

What are some examples of healthy and nourishing breakfasts?


I’ve read that eating smaller, more frequent meals provides better energy and weight control than eating three big meals a day. So where does snacking fit in?

What are some examples of crunchy health snacks?

What are some examples of rich and creamy snacks that are good for me?

I have a sweet tooth. What snacks would you recommend?

What are some examples of salty health snacks?


ACL Injury

I hear that ACL injuries are common in basketball, skiing and other sports. What exactly is the ACL and how can you injure it?

Are there any good ACL injury prevention programs out there? I want to play hard, yet stay healthy.

Are ACL tears more common in men or women?

What’s the best way to prevent an ACL injury?

Bone Strength

I’ve heard that once you reach age 30 it doesn’t matter if you’re active, you won’t gain any more bone. Is this true?

How can I help my kids build bone strength?

If I’m over 30 and have already reached my peak bone mass, do I need to exercise as much?

Is strength training good for bones?

Muscle Strength

No matter how hard I try, I can't lift as much weight as my teammate, who's the same size as me and doing the same program. Why is this?

How can I maximize my personal strength potential?

NCAA Safety Guidelines

My son will get started soon with football practice and two-a-days. Someone told me there are new NCAA safety guidelines for football. What should I know?


I’ve heard that you should stretch after exercise, not before. What’s the latest on stretching?

When is the best time to stretch?

What is dynamic stretching?

Skin Care

What kind of sunscreen should I use, and how often should I reapply?

What are the chances of getting skin cancer?

I play beach volleyball and try to remember to put on sunscreen before I get started. But it ends up looking chalky or stinging my eyes. Is there anything new for sun protection?

Warm Up/Cool Down

I’m a soccer player and would like some advice about how to warm up before my game or practice.

How important is the cool-down period?


Everybody talks about strengthening the core. What is the core exactly?

What are some exercises that can help strengthen the core?


I started surfing this summer and LOVE it! Is there anything I need to know to stay safe out there?

I've heard using a surf leash can be dangerous. Should I use mine?


Head Injuries

When I was out surfing the other day, my board hit me in the head. Afterward, I felt a little nauseous. Could it be a concussion?

Do you have to have a loss of consciousness or memory loss to have a concussion?

Can you try to “wait out” a concussion?

My son is a sophomore and wants to play on the varsity soccer team. He had a concussion last year and I’m concerned about him getting another one. Should I talk to him about wearing protective headgear?

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

Should I be worried about soccer-related head injuries? What can I do to prevent concussions?

Wrist Injuries

I was playing beach volleyball and dove for a ball. When I landed my wrist bent back. It’s sore now when I try to do stuff like push-ups or try to grip and turn things. Any ideas?

How can I stay fit while my wrist is healing?

Ankle Injuries

I recently sprained my ankle and was told to just “walk it off.” Does this really help my ankle sprain?

What should I do for mild ankle pain?

What should I do for moderate to severe ankle pain?

How common are ankle sprains?

How long does it take to recover from an ankle sprain?

I sprained my ankle playing basketball and I’m a little nervous about getting back on the court. How do I know that I’m ready to play and won’t re-injure it?

What are some basic strengthening exercises for a sprained ankle?

What's the most common risk factor for a sprained ankle?

Knee Injuries

I run a lot for conditioning and been feeling pain on the outside of my right knee. I've been told that it’s IT band syndrome (ITBS). What exactly is ITBS and how can I get rid of it?

How can I accelerate recovery from ITBS?

I've been doing strength training for ITBS for a few weeks now. When can I start running again?

When I play basketball I typically get pain in the front of my knee. The pain kind of goes away once I’m warmed up. But it comes back the more I play and especially when I have to jump and land a lot. What is this?

What’s the best treatment for jumper’s knee?

How long can it take to recover from jumper’s knee, and what can I do to accelerate the process?

How can I prevent jumper’s knee?

Hamstring Injuries

I’m a runner and have a nagging hamstring strain that won’t seem to go away. I’ve tried resting it for a few weeks, stretching, even had some physical therapy, but it still lingers. What else can I do?

Why do some athletes get chronic hamstring injuries?

How can I tell if my hamstrings are ready to start running/jogging again?

What are some hamstring exercises that can help prevent re-injury?

Neck Injuries

I've been having pain in the back of my neck while swimming longer freestyle workouts. What's causing the pain?

When should I warm up my neck in order to prevent pain?

How can I minimize neck pain while swimming?

What are some post-workout tricks for a stiff, sore neck?



I'm tired of getting blisters during soccer practice. Any advice?

I've heard that the right sock can enhance performance. What factors should I keep in mind when sock shopping?

Are thicker socks better?


What’s the scoop on minimalist shoes?

I'm thinking about using minimalist shoes for running. Any advice?


Is there a helmet that can protect me against having a concussion?

What factors increase the probability of getting a concussion that a helmet can't help?

Are sports organizations making any attempt to reduce the number of head injuries, for example by making better helmets?



I heard one of the players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was diagnosed with an MRSA infection. It kept him out of competition and some other teammates also got MRSA. I think he even needed surgery. What is MRSA?

How can I avoid an MSRA infection?

Sedentary Lifestyle

I do a high-intense workout three to four times a week for an hour each time. Is this enough to combat the effects of sitting for eight hours or longer, five days a week?

What negative effect(s) does prolonged sitting have on the body, and what are some things I can do to prevent it?