Now that the weather is cooperating, I've been jogging outside and playing a lot of tennis. Yesterday I was on the tennis court when the outside of my left knee, on the back of my leg, began really hurting. What happened?
"Pain in the back of the knee reflects what's happening in the front of the knee," says Dr. Michael Mont, director of the Center for Joint Preservation & Reconstruction at the Rubin Institute for Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital.
You may have injured your lateral collateral ligament - LCL - which provides stability to the outer part of the knee. If you heard a "pop" or have noticed any swelling, call your doctor.
According to Mont, the best thing you can do now is take it easy and apply R.I.C.E. - rest, ice, compression and elevation. By staying off the knee, you will avoid risking further damage. If the pain doesn't subside after a day or two, it's important that you visit your doctor.
I'm constantly calling my doctor with minor sports injuries and aches and pains. Although he's great about answering my questions, it always takes time to get him on the phone, and I feel like a nag. Can I e-mail him? Is it uncommon?
Every doctor is different, so you should ask him directly. Many doctors prefer the phone as their main means of communicating with patients.
If you're a Web surfer, check out WebMd.com and MdHub.com. The first site is a user-friendly online medical database. You may be able to self-diagnose smaller aches and pains here.
The second site offers a different way to communicate with your doctor. Simply find his or her name on the site, then click on "Appointment," "Prescription Renewals," "Test Results," "Referrals," "Are You Better?" or "Questions/Comments."
Your inquiry will be sent to his or her office as a fax and you will receive a response by phone.
I'm in my late 20s and have gotten back into soccer (I played Division III in college). I strained my hip flexor recently, but it's better now and I'll be back on the field soon. How do I keep from reinjuring it?
With a sport as intense as soccer, you need to be warming up, stretching fully and cooling down. Those who play sports that really tax the body have to be particularly disciplined about preparing their bodies before exercise and recuperating afterward.
Stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps daily. This will help protect that area in the future.
To stretch the hip flexor, sit on the right edge of a chair with your left foot on the floor in front of you. Place your right leg behind you with your toes and the ball of your foot on the floor, knee pointing toward the floor. Squeezing your glutes, press your right hip forward until you feel the stretch. Switch legs and repeat.
Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at baltimoresun.com/healthscience, or in writing to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.