Vaccinations, eating disorders of athletes, prevention, and doping: these are just some of the issues dealt with by sports doctors of the new millennium, who no longer deal only with accidents and disorders.

Athletes are increasingly aware and attentive to their physical fitness and well being, so the medical and sports needs and the role of the sports doctor, and in particular the role of the football doctor, has changed a lot in recent years.

For example, in the field coexist very different cultures, habits and religions, with the sole objective of scoring goals, that often also affect daily life and translate into different needs, such as food. Think of Muslim footballers (who, if observed, would not be allowed to eat pork) or even those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, without considering then intolerances or food allergies, which force anyone to change the diets to which you are used to. The doctor therefore has an important role in the creation of a diet that the team or the individual player must follow to improve performance, while respecting cultures and religions or diseases.

Dr. Piero Volpi, Head of Knee Surgery and Sports Traumatology at Humanitas and Head of the Medical Sector of Internal Medicine spoke of this and much more in the book “Football Doctor – The Manual”, published by Edra, along with other experts who offer the reader their knowledge gained in the field over the years.

“Football is a world that permeates the lives of most Italians and this is often taken as an example by fans. For this reason I believe very much in the importance of creating and spreading a real culture of health and well-being within this sector, especially one that can have a positive effect on all levels of sport, including youth and amateur, both male and female – explained Dr. Volpi. Medicine can be the element that allows you to enrich the whole world of sport, bringing positive impacts in the evolution of training and professional figures involved in the sector, such as physiotherapists.

“Alongside this essential goal of ours – added the author – there are others, such as the fight against doping, abuse of licit drugs and the need for real prevention, which is still not clearly understood in its real importance.


The fight against doping and dietary supplements

In the text “Football doctor” the author traces the birth and development of the phenomenon of doping and proposes an analysis of today’s doping substances and their pharmaco-toxicological effects. Attention is also given to dietary supplements: “they are not prohibited products and they have become commonly used because they are considered natural and harmless substances, easily available on the Internet, often useless in the context of proper nutrition, but not always harmless,” explained Dr. Volpi. “Sometimes they also contain undeclared doping substances that risk disqualifying the athlete”, clarified the doctor.



Increasingly at the center of public debate, the chapter vaccinations has recently entered the world of football following the recommendations by the Italian scientific societies for the vaccinations of professional athletes of various disciplines.

In the light of daily team life, made up of close contact between teammates and staff and constant travel, including intercontinental races, “the prophylaxis of infectious diseases preventable by vaccines in professional athletes has a particular importance,” explained Dr. Volpi.

Moreover, from an ‘immunological’ point of view, sports doctors also deal with the impact of the so-called ‘sports immunology’, i.e. the effects of physical exercise on the immune system and the consequences that any infectious diseases can have on sports performance. Themes that, if well addressed, “contribute to making conscious choices by doctors and staff to preserve the individual health and performance of the team,” explained Volpi.


Prevention: a necessary ally that is often overlooked

As for any patient and also for footballers and athletes in general, prevention is the main ally to ‘defeat’ and prevent pathologies or pains. Even more so, sportsmen and sportswomen, who know their bodies well and listen to them during daily training sessions, are increasingly seeking medical advice not only in the event of accidents, as was the case in the past, but also just to improve their performance.

“This is an area in which the sports doctor must act with great intensity and ability – explained Volpi – because through the specific knowledge of technical gestures, training methods, rhythms and loads of technical and athletic commitments typical of competitions and training you can try to reduce the incidence of disease and injury. A foresight that benefits not only the individual player, but the entire team: “keeping their squad of players in good health will be possible to achieve the goals set at the beginning of the season.


Football in ‘pink’

With the rise of female football, the doctor pays particular attention to the needs of female athletes and footballers, who have a different physique and obviously have different needs, requirements and performances compared to their male colleagues.

For example, attention is paid above all to eating disorders, which develop during adolescence and can affect the hormone system, thus laying the foundations for the appearance of the ” athletes’ triad”.

The book “Football Doctor – The Manual” by Dr. Piero Volpi, Head of Knee Surgery and Sports Traumatology at Humanitas and Head of the Medical Sector at FC Internazionale Milano, was previewed to the press on October 11 at the Humanitas University campus.