Abdenour Abdenour
Warriors athletic trainer Tom Abdenour is hosting NBA.com's Gonna Make You Sweat: NBA Health & Conditioning section and will be answering fan questions about health, injuries and rehabilitation through the 2001-02 season.

Here are Abdenour's responses to a selection of e-mails:

First I would like to say it's real cool of you to answer the questions sent to you. I played high school basketball and some NAIA. I am way out of shape and want to play again. What is the best way to start back? I do cardio 2-3 times a week.

Where Does It Hurt?

E-mail a question to Abdenour

Maybe your question is here -- previous answers from Abdenour: Jan. 23 | Dec. 26 | Dec. 5

Abdenour: Thanks for the nice words about our site. We are having fun with it. I tip my hat to you about trying to get back into shape to play basketball again.

The first thing that I'd suggest is a physical exam by your family doctor. Not knowing how long it has been since you played, it would be a good idea to make sure there is no underlying medical condition to concern yourself with. Once you get the green light, try to get 20-30 minutes of aerobic work at least three times per week. You're probably familiar with the techniques -- treadmill, stairstepper, or elliptical transporter -- and work until you get your pace to an adequate level. Your heart rate should be at a number based on 80% of 220 minus your age. This will obviously give you the base you need to prepare yourself to play basketball again, and as you know, that's a great way to stay in shape. Good luck and enjoy playing again.

How do you avoid a torn ACL injury when playing sports?
Edmonds, Wash.

Abdenour: If we could figure that out, we could win the Nobel Peace Prize for Sports Medicine (if they had one). There are a lot of factors that go into an ACL injury: strength, one's balance ability, how the injury occurred, and so on. I guess the best thing would be to stay as strong and in shape as possible and hope that you have the good fortune of not sustaining one of these injuries.

I have pain on my shin and on the side of the leg. What could that be and how can I rehab it?
Passaic, N.J.

Abdenour: My suggestion would be to check with your physician to get a good diagnosis of what the injury is and then set up a rehab plan. It's possible that rest may be the best thing to do. Once the injury has been diagnosed, have your physician recommend some exercises or refer you to a sports medicine clinic for a comprehensive rehab program. Good Luck.

I recently suffered my first knee injury. It was not a pleasant thing -- I would not wish it on my worse enemy. I went to the ER and an orthopedist and they think I have a partially torn meniscus. An MRI has not been performed yet. They want me to wait three weeks before they come up with a decision.

I'll give you some of my symptoms here from my knee: Pain when trying to bring the knee into a crouching position, knee feeling week or unstable sometimes. Oh yes I did take x-rays and no bone damage but it did show at the time a suprapatellar effusion. I guess my question is, No. 1: your opinion on my situation, No. 2: how long does this type of injury take to recover? No. 3: Is it minor or major type of surgery if needed?

Abdenour: I think you are probably doing the best thing, and that is having an MRI done for your knee. This will give your orthopedic specialist a great look into your knee and then determine if there are any structures damaged. Be sure to tell him about the discomfort in a crouching position and the swelling that you have. If surgery is needed, ask him if an arthroscopic procedure is what you need. In many cases the rehabilitation time is somewhat accelerated for a motivated athlete. However, before scheduling your rehab plans, complete the diagnosis.

I am a basketball coach of a semi pro women's team in Australia and I'm looking for some on-court conditioning drills. Would you be able to help me?
Victoria, Australia

Abdenour: Mark Grabow, the Director of Athletic Development for my team, the Golden State Warriors, has an outstanding book that will give you over 100 drills for your team. If you would like, mail me a letter regarding this:

Tom Abdenour, ATC
Golden State Warriors
1011 Broadway
Oakland, CA USA 94607

I have just read your column on the ACL, and found it very interesting and informative. One other injury you hear a bit about is "jumper's knee". I know Vince Carter has missed some games because of this injury. I think it'd be really good if you could cover "jumper's knee" in a future column, I know I would be quite interested to find out exactly what it is (and how, if at all, it relates to the ACL).
Wellington, New Zealand

Abdenour: Thanks for the suggestion. "Jumper's Knee" is a common ailment among basketball players. It is a repetitive overuse injury from jumping too much. The tendon between the knee cap and shin bone becomes inflamed from overuse. We see it at the start of a season, or if a player plays an increased amount of time. It is a chronic injury, whereas the ACL is generally acute, so they are not necessarily related. However, the player with "jumper's knee" does need to maintain flexibility in his quad muscles and good knee strength to minimize his symptoms.

Stay tuned. We might go into more depth in the future.

I'm just recovering from an injury to my hamstring and I regularly stretch before and between games. I'm back to running full court games, but I occasionally get a little twinge in my leg. Is there any way I can stop this from happening??

Abdenour: It seems like your stretching is definitely the correct thing to do. I'd suggest that you heat your muscle up with a heating pad or hot water bottle before you play. That might help. Also, if you use a neoprene rubber thigh sleeve that will give you some support and keep the area warm while you are playing. Be sure to get a cold treatment when you finish. This could be a simple as a bag of ice for 15 minutes or so. Good luck and keep up the stretching.

I play basketball almost everyday. I read a lot of your answers to Questions, just in case that you answered mine before I had time to e-mail you. I am a freshman in college and I had myself sit out this season from knee pain. The trainer I was going to said I had to work the inner muscle of my thigh, because the outer muscle was stronger, causing the knee cap to pull that way. I was a great dunk my junior year of high school, but after my knee got hurt, I can barely dunk one-handed. What should I do to get my muscles balanced so I can dunk again?
Monmouth, Ill.

Abdenour: My first suggestion is for you to stay in close touch with your athletic trainer at the college. My guess is that he was referring to the vastus medialis muscle which is an important muscle in the knee cap mechanics. There are some exercises that you can do for this muscle that isolate it very well, particularly when your knee is just about straight. Once this gets stronger, then you'll probably be able to proceed to more rigorous jump training exercises with caution. Again, have a good conversation with your athletic trainer to set up the plan for your rehab. Good luck.

What is your recommended therapy and rehab for acromioclavicular luxation (grade 2 or 3)?

Abdenour: The AC injury is one that we don't see in basketball often, however we do see it more frequently in American football. I'd suggest talking to your physician about a rehabilitation plan that emphasizes upper body strength. It's important to build up the deltoid muscle and trapezius muscles with this injury. In some cases, surgery is necessary, but that would be based on your physician's suggestion.

I had a surgery on my right knee about two years ago. I am back playing league basketball, but my knee is nowhere near as sound as pre-injury. What exercises can I do to get the strength back the quickest?

Abdenour: Part of a successful surgery is an equally successful rehabilitation. There are some home exercises that are in one of our earlier postings. We used Erick Dampier as our model to demonstrate some of the exercises that he uses regularly. Also, refer to the Troy Murphy demonstration of ankle exercises and check out the balance work that Troy did. Strength and balance are important components to a successful rehab. Take these exercises to your physician or sports medicine clinician that you worked with in the past and see how they will benefit you or how they can be expanded to meet your needs.

I have a history of left ankle sprains. At this is point, my left ankle has very little stability and offers little resistance to sharp cuts and ground that isn't level. I was told that the ligaments in my ankle have actually healed in a stretched position. Is there any corrective surgery available that can restore the strength and proper healing of my ankle ligaments?

Abdenour: Yes there are surgeries that focus on the ankle ligaments relative to ankle stability. I'd suggest that you speak to your physician about this. There are some fine sports medicine orthopedic surgeons in the Baltimore and Washington area if you would prefer to see one of them. Good luck.

Hello, I think that your description of the ACL was very well written, congrats on that. I have a question: I love my basketball, I always have and always will. I tore my ACL and medial co-lateral about two or so years ago. I was out for 18 months, now I am finally playing again, but my confidence is just not the same. I have played more then a whole season, but can't get my old self back, Any advice? Thanks for your help.
Perth, Australia

Abdenour: Thanks for your kind words. It's important that your strength is very good in your surgical knee. Your goal should be to have the injured knee at least as strong as the healthy knee. Also, if needed, your physician may put you into a brace to prevent any rotational motion that is not necessary. Otherwise, just keep playing and your keep the faith.

I'm a 20, athlete. I injured my knee playing when a buddy drove to the lane and hit my knee as I stepped in front of him. I didn't hear anything tear, but it's been two months and it still has a weird popping sound to it when I bend it. Do you know what this could be, or how I can stop it? Thanks for your help.
Kent, Ohio

Abdenour: The good news is that you did not hear anythign pop or tear, but I sense your frustration about your current "popping" sensations. Be sure to check with your physician to establish a thorough diagnosis. Sometimes the knee cap area will swell and there will be discomfort and noise witht the bending motion. Get it checked and then you can establish a good rehab program to resolve the problem.