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've recently had surgery for Achilles tendinitis and would be very grateful for any advice/information you could give me in maximizing my Rehab potential.
Falkirk, Scotland

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Maybe your question is here -- previous answers from Abdenour: March 27 | Feb. 20 | Jan. 23 | Dec. 26 | Dec. 5

Abdenour: Good luck with your rehab. We have had several players in the NBA need Achilles tendon surgery and have been able to return to play. There are some routine elements of the "rehab recipe" that you'll go through. The first will be restoring your flexibility. This is very important and literally, the first step in the process. I'm sure your rehab therapist will have a few exercises that will help you gain back what you need to move your foot and ankle up and down normally. Once that returns, then you can proceed to light weight work and increase that as you tolerate it. Finally, you can probably start some fitness work once you have adequate strength for moving your ankle down and up. It'll take time and hard work and a little blood, sweat, and tears along the way, but stick with it.

I was wondering what David Robinson does to get so ripped. Is that genetics or can that be accomplished by anyone?
Madison, Wisc.

Abdenour: Many gifted athletes such as David are genetically gifted. Also, he has worked very, very hard in the weight room to maximize his potential. None of us can do much to change our genetic make up, but we can all work to our potential and achieve as much as possible.

I am a 16 year old basketball player and have recently started a plyometric training program. I've heard that creatine can accelerate gains. Is this true and how do you feel about creatine for teenagers like me?
Kings Beach, Calif.

Abdenour: The question about creatine for teenagers is a good one. Personally, I'd suggest steering away from it while in high school. The way I understand creatine, it's not the "be all and end all" of strength training. To be successful with creatine, the athlete must have a regimented strength training program, have a diet low in fat, and it might not work for everyone. My suggestion is to continue to work hard in your plyometric program, eat a sensible diet, and enjoy being a high school student. I have two daughters in high school and that's what I would recommend to their classmates.

I pulled my hamstring playing ball about a month ago and it still hasn't healed. I've played a few times since then, but I shouldn't have and I aggravated it worse. I was wondering what exactly you would recommend for it. And what specific stretches would help. I'm a big Warriors fan and Id really appreciate it if you could help me. Thanks a lot.
Freeport, NY

Abdenour: Pulled hamstring … OUCH! Coming back from a hamstring strain is a tough one. As tantalizing as it may be sometimes to come back early, it's important to wait until it's healed. One way you can determine if you are ready to go is by simply bending down to "touch the floor". If you can go the same distance with each hand and with no pain in the hamstring, then you are just about there. We learned this the hard way with one of our players several years ago. A simple stretch that you can do is the old-fashioned straight leg raise: lay on your back and pull you leg up as far as you can. Once you achieve as much flexibility as possible WITHOUT pain, then hold it for 15-20 seconds; repeat this three times. Also, before you start out playing, be sure you are adequately warmed up. Good Luck, and thanks for being a Warriors fan.

I tore my ACL and my meniscus in a pick-up game. What exercises do you recommend in the weeks leading up to the surgery? I injured it in late February, so I already have full range of motion, but I was wondering if there any other specific things I could do in addition to the exercise bike and the EFX machine.

Abdenour: It sounds like those are the best things for you to do. Possibly by the time I get back to you, the surgery will have been complete. Eventually you will get back to that point of the EFX or exercise bike. The EFX is a great machine for fitness and strength rehab, in particular because it does not put much load on the knee. Sounds to me like you have a good plan for your rehab, all it takes now is your effort, which I'm sure you'll bring.

I got injured with my thumb. I was moving one way and my finger got caught by a player who was moving the other way. I guess I tore up the ligament. It's been like a month now, but it's not fully recovered yet. When I don't play ball, it doesn't hurt at all. But when I start using my thumb, the pain comes back again. What should I do to heal it?
Ballerup, Denmark

Abdenour: What you described is a common way of how many of our finger injuries occur. If your physician approves, try to have your thumb taped with a "spica" technique. This will keep your thumb a little closer to the rest of your hand, so if it gets taken out again, it won't go too far. Otherwise, more rest or immobilization might be what you need, but check that with your doctor. Good luck.

I was wondering about what type of plyometrics that you train your players with. I was also wondering what the results are. What do you think about products such as jumpsoles and programs such as air alert?
Victoria, British Columbia

Abdenour: Plyometrics are a very effective exercise to enhance power, and in particularly, jumping. We do some light work during the season, but in the off-season, our Strength and Conditioning Coach will do some box jumps both from the box down and from the floor up. It's very important that these exercises be done once the legs are very strong. Personally, I don't know too much about the jumping shoe products and I'm very happy with the techniques that we are currently using. Hope this helps!

I love playing basketball, and I've tried a few times in the past to increase my endurance with a running program. But every time I end up with shin splints. Are there any specific stretches or techniques I could use to avoid this recurring problem?
Dover, NH

Abdenour: Shin splints are a problem in the early phases of a conditioning program. A couple of tips: Make sure your shoes are good and that they give good arch support, and, be sure to stretch your calf out. The old fashioned junior high school stretch of leaning against the wall with your feet turned in a little is still an effective way of getting this done. Also, if you can, be sure you are running on a soft type of surface, such as the grass or an all-surface track. Running the roads can be tough on the shins, particularly early in a fitness program. If you find no success with this, check with your doctor to make sure there are no problems with your shins. Hope this helps.

What is your advice on a broken right foot, the fifth metatarsal? This injury occurred while I was playing basketball. How long does it take to regain the strength back in your foot?
Edwards, Calif.

Abdenour: That's a tough one. This depends on how aggressive your doctor wants to be. In some cases the bone will heal quite well in six weeks or so as long as you don't put any weight on it while you are in a cast. In other case, surgery is needed. There are a lot of factors involved in those types of discussion, so listen closely to what your doctor has to say.

I am nearly 15 years old. I just want to know, will doing weights stop or slow down my height growth?
Los Angeles

Abdenour: No, strength training will not slow down your growth to my knowledge. I'd suggest that you work closely with your PE teachers or coaches to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly and minimize your risk of injury.

In reading that you are offering advice on certain elements pertaining to athletic activities I have a question. I fractured my fibula about 4 years ago and my quadricep due to improper rehabilitation is much smaller on that leg.

In asking one of our trainers at my particular university, one of the exercises he suggested in my workout consist of doing it with both legs.

Now that my quad is beginning to take much more form and is much stronger (but not there yet), would you recommend me doing quad extensions with that one leg now?

Thank you for all of your help and I hope to see you in the league very soon as my LORD shall provide.
Tallahassee, Fla.

Abdenour: That's a fair question. Traditionally, the single leg knee extension is a good exercise for quad development. There are some new theories that suggest the leg be in contact with the floor or leg press platform rather than freely off the end of a knee extension machine. Check with your athletic trainer to see if a single leg extension or single leg squat would benefit you. We're always looking for good players in the NBA, so maybe we'll see you in the future.

I am a high school basketball coach in the San Antonio area. We are in offseason right now, and I was wondering if going down too far on military dumbbell press could be harmful to your rotator cuff?
Boerne, Texas

Abdenour: I think you will be OK provided that there is no soreness in the rotator cuff tendon during or after the exercise. To me, I think you are safe, also provided that the weight is something comfortable for a high school student.

I need to get in great cardiovascular shape between now and June. What can I do? And what type of running should I do so that I won't get bored with it?

Abdenour: Fitness work takes time. First, make sure you are medically able to start a fitness program, therefore, check with your doctor to make sure that you are ready to go. Secondly, 20-30 min of aerobic work at least 3-4 days per week is a good start. To complement this, be sure your diet is low in fat and unnecessary carbohydrates, such as sweets. It's not easy to get into shape, particularly with a deadline. Good luck and be safe.