You never have time to see the doctor about that nagging sore back, do you? There are four horses to shoe tomorrow at three farms, six the next day, and seven the day after that.

Even if you did finish shoeing with daylight left, it would be way past the doctor’s office hours. Besides, your back is just a little sore and it’s not really keeping you from shoeing, right?

Maybe it isn’t slowing you down yet, but this soreness could be a repetitive stress injury that might get worse if you don’t do something about it. But how do you know what it is and how to treat it when you can’t see a doctor?

ESPN Has Answers

There might be a solution for even the most hectic schedule. ESPN’s Web site ( has a section called the Training Room, which contains many articles by sports physicians on athletic injuries. It’s not as good as the doctor, but if you don’t have time to see one you might want to give it a try—at your convenience, of course. You could find information to help you decide whether that nagging soreness needs rest, stretching or a doctor’s attention.

The Training Room (http://espn. go. com/trainingroom) starts off with a short paragraph regarding the latest articles on injuries, fitness and nutrition, and gives a link to the archive area for each section. This is a gold mine of information; each section is archived in the same place so you don’t have to wonder whether the information you want is under Fitness or Injuries.

Each article consists of an interview with the sports physician of a prominent sports team and many articles include understandable, colored diagrams of the affected structures.

Once you’re in the archive, it shouldn’t take long to find something specific on your problem. There’s quite a variety of topics including vitamin deficiencies, spinal cord injuries and most things in between. The articles are listed by title and each includes a sentence describing its content, so you can go right to what you’re looking for.

Valuable Information

Now that you’ve selected an article to read (probably on that injury you’re trying to self-diagnose), you’re in for a real treat. You’ll find a short paragraph on the credentials of the doctor quoted in the article and then the interview.

The doctor describes in language lay-people can understand the activities that normally cause the injury, the symptoms and the physiology behind the symptoms, and discusses treatments and typical prognoses.

Even though these doctors are accustomed to treating injuries with techniques that can cost more money than you may have or want to spend, their suggested treatments aren’t always expensive. Many are simply rest, ibuprofen and/or ice. The doctors also give tips on preventing recurrences by stretching before exercise, modifying the action that caused the injury and not overdoing it. Some recommended treatments are surgical and most are outpatient procedures.

The only problems with ESPN’s Training Room are that it could be more organized and sometimes names articles by the technical name of the injury, such as Compartment Syndrome, rather than something the layperson would look for, such as Lower Leg Pain. The designers could work on organizing the list by injury site rather than article date, which would help shorten your search time. On the other issue, the descriptive sentences often help clarify the article’s subject.

Online education is in no way a substitute for physician evaluation. However, if you don’t have time to see a doctor and you do have time to hit the Net, you may find something in ESPN’s Training Room to help you, or at least help you understand what your body is going through.