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:

I would like to know your opinion about working out with weights and playing basketball. I find that working hard in the gym doesn't always mean that I'll play well on the court. Although I find myself to be stronger, I am less explosive. What do you recommend amateur basketball players do when they want to increase their speed, agility and also strength on the hardwood? Are there any exercises or programs out there that satisfy all this? Thanks very much for your time.
New York

Where Does It Hurt?

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Maybe your question is here -- previous answers from Abdenour: Feb. 20 | Jan. 23 | Dec. 26 | Dec. 5

Abdenour: The vast majority of our players have some kind of leg strengthening program that they follow. Generally, there may be exercises such as squats, lunges, or the leg press that are part of this type of protocol. During the season, players may not do many plyometric types of exercises but would do those during the off-season. Check our Fitness Index for features from some of the teams in the NBA on their strengthening program. We are planning more of a feature on leg strengthening and agility programs, so stay tuned.

I was wondering what the importance of setting a person up in correct posture and alignment? As well as please explain the implications of inpingements of the spine.
New York

Abdenour: Wow, those are a couple of questions that could take a while to answer completely. In general, proper posture and mechanics are important to achieve the most efficiency out of movement. In our setting, these are important to prevent an injury also. For example, if there is a slight dysfunction in one of part of the hip, the low back might be affected. Over the course of time, this could cause some inflammation and discomfort that could compromise a player's ability. Now, as far as the spinal impingements, I'd suggest that you meet with a physician regarding these. When you do, don't hesitate to ask a lot of questions. Good Luck.

I am a center for a team in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have a continuous problem with my knee as the ligaments are always in pain when I run, jump and land. The pain is directly in the kneecap. Do you know what I can do to ease this pain?
Dunbar, UK

Abdenour: Check with your medical provider to establish a complete diagnosis of your knee pain. Also, ask about a rehabilitation strengthening program. There is one muscle of the "quadriceps" group that is vital to the mechanics of the knee cap. This name of this muscle is the vastus medialis. A thorough rehab program will strengthen this. Here in our Gonna Make You Sweat section we have featured Erick Dampier, the center for my team, the Golden State Warriors. Erick has had three knee surgeries and you might benefit from some of his rehab exercises. Check them out and take them to your specialist to see if they are good for you.

I have been suffering from a re-injured sprained knee (MCL) these last few weeks. Before this injury occurred, I sprained my knee before but it was only Grade 1. It was easy to heal, and I was back to playing basketball. On the day it was re-injured, I drove to the basket and a hard collision occurred and someone landed on my knee. Fortunately, I didn't hear anything pop but the pain is excruciating. My doctor said that it was a severe Grade 2 sprain and advised me to use crutches for the next few weeks before he will check it up again. Right now, I can barely stand and I heavily rely on crutches and the pain is so painful. It is more painful than it was the time I had the injury. About how long would it take me to recover and play basketball again? Can you give me ways to rehabilitate my knee? I would be happy if you could answer my question. Good luck and more power to your site!
New York

Abdenour: Thanks for the kind words about our site. We are having fun on this side of the internet too. In general, stick with the game plan of your care. In some cases a Grade II sprain might take up to 4-6 weeks before you are feeling real good. You might need the crutches for a couple of weeks. This is important to allow the healing process to be sustained without too much interruption. My guess is that after the first couple of days, you may have put too much pressure on your knee, and that's what caused it to hurt. That's not too unusual...been there done that with some of our players. If it's any consolation, 20 years ago you would have been in a cast for six weeks, so keep the faith and hang in there!

I am a basketball player and a runner. I've been getting terrible pain in my thigh ever than before, and I can't seem to shake it off. Stretching didn't work. What should I do?

Abdenour: Don't give up on the stretching before AND AFTER you work out. Also, try heating your thigh up before you work out. You can accomplish this with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Also, you might get some relief from a neoprene sleeve, like many of our players have. When you finish, be sure to get some ice on it and stretch again. The easiest way is with a small plastic bag of ice applied to the injured area for about 20 minutes. You can stretch while this is on or after. Hope these work out for you.

What would a good pregame meal be?
Voorhees, NJ

Abdenour: Many of our players will eat a meal that has more carbohydrates and protein than fat. Pasta with chicken is a good choice usually about four hours before the game. As tasty as some fast food is, it may not make the most appropriate pre-game meal. Postgame nutrition is important also. We are learning more about the need for some protein after a game and more people are including meats into their traditional postgame carbohydrate meal. Bon appetite!

I need to get fit. I am not fat -- I'm broad, seriously you may think I am saying broad as a word to substitute! But really what's the best way to trim my McDonalds (beer) belly? I have 25-pound barbells at my house help me out.
Brooklyn, NY

Abdenour: There is no substitute for hard work and discipline when it comes to losing weight. The first stop in your process should be with your physician. Get a physical exam before you start "jogging to the oldies". While you are there, ask about a good nutrition guideline. Don't think "diet". Think "behavior modification" and have the willpower to give it an honest effort. I know it's not easy, but the rewards are good. It's on my list of things to do during the offseason!!!!

What kind of abdominal workout can get me a six-pack?
Birmingham, Ala.

Abdenour: Much like the suggestion to Artman above you, this will take a lot of hard work and focus. We will feature abdominal work as part of a low back sequence sometime this spring, so stay tuned.

I am a very athletic individual who enjoys playing basketball. Recently I strained my calf muscle (soleus). What can I do to rehab this muscle so I can get back to playing full court basketball?
Bellevue, Wash.

Abdenour: When one of our players has an injury like this, we put a heel lift into his shoe. This helps relieve some of the pressure associated with the muscle strain. Check with your physician to see if this would be appropriate for you. Rehabilitation involving stretching and strengthening the calf are also important. When you stretch your calf, be sure to bend your knee a little. This helps isolate the soleus a bit more. You might benefit from some calf raises with light weights also. You don't need too much weight on an injured calf, so check with your sports medicine clinician regarding how much would be good.

I want to know why you keep a clipboard during the games. Shouldn't you be watching for mechanisms of injury? Are you a part-time coach? What statistics are you keeping and why? Do you have students helping you?
Trainer Jane
Jefferson City, Tenn.

Abdenour: There's a lot going on in our games, and I agree it's important to keep an eye on the action. Not only to watch for injuries and injured players, but every once in a while, one of those guys ends up in my lap! (By the way, that happened twice in our game last night.)

On my clipboard I keep track of individual and team fouls, time outs, and other stats like this. Virtually all of the note-taking occurs during dead ball situations, so I don't miss too much of the game for that. However, every once in a while, my front row ticket on the bench becomes an obstructed view seat, depending on who is standing in front of me. I get a lot of help from everyone on the bench if someone goes down.

We do not have any athletic training students, but I do have an intern who recently became a Certified Athletic Trainer.

I am looking to get into some serious shape, although I need to leave the weights alone. I need to know some drills that will help my cardiovascular workout so I can get up and down the court faster and have more endurance when the game is on the line. I really would appreciate your help. See you soon in the league.
Washington, DC

Abdenour: As I noted to Artman above, getting into shape requires discipline and focus to stick with a good fitness program. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you need to do. There is a fitness text book that some of the NBA Athletic Trainers produced. Check into it and it might help guide you along. Good luck.

What is a typical day for you in the NBA?
Statesboro, Ga.

Abdenour: When we are at home, I drop off my son at school and head to work. If we have a practice or shootaround, that is in the morning. Pre-practice routine involves taping ankles, treating injuries, or just saying "hi" as the players come in. After practice it will be treatments or rehab as needed. There is a fair amount of paperwork and administrative work that I have to take care of. Games for us in Oakland are usually at 7:30, so I'll head over to the arena sometime during the middle of the afternoon. When we are on the road like today (hello from Boston) we have practice or a team breakfast in the morning and the games in the evening. All in all, it does beat working for a living.