In Street Clothes...
By Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert
Ben Wallace - CHI [C]
Ben Wallace is dealing with bone spurs in his left foot, a condition that has bothered him in the past and eventually requrired surgery. Usually bone spurs develop in the bottom of the foot by the back of the arch and are called heel spurs. His appear to be in the top part of the foot or ankle, usually termed the subtalar joint (the two bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula, articulate with the talus, which then connects to the calcaneus or heel bone). Basically all the weight of the body translates through the talus when standing. Spurs usually develop when there is constant irritation from a tendon or ligament pulling in a certain direction or when there is a disruption in the cartilage that protects the ends of bones as they connect with other bones. When the cartilage isn't smooth, and there is bone to bone contact, they can grow little projections or spurs. It's one of the body's responses to injury to lay down more calcium to strengthen the existing bone, but sometime new tissue can develop in a place it really shouldn't be. When little pieces of this bone or cartilage break off, then you have fragments, or loose bodies that usually must be removed through surgery. This could have been the case with Wallace last time, so his situation bears watching. His minutes are there but the numbers aren't; it seems obvious he's in some pain.
Kevin Martin - SAC [SG]
Kevin Martin is still a few weeks away from returning from the groin injury he suffered the first week of December. Despite what coaches, and a lot of players, think there is no exact time frame to put on these types of injuries, so just because you "had one back in college," that doesn't mean someone else will heal the same way today.
Sports Medicine professionals talk of muscle strains in grades: I, II, and III. Grade one is a partial tear, two, being a more advanced tear involving more of the muscle's fibers, and three being a complete full thickness muscle tear. Martin's was probably a grade II and that's the reason for the longer-than-expected absence. If it was a grade III, we could be talking of the end of his season and possible surgery. As of today he is working on strength and agility training, trying to mimic the action of playing basketball with lower intensity resistance exercise, like elastic bands. Years ago the rehab was simple: ice it, stretch it, and go play. Today we look more to the functional approach to rehab, trying to get athletes as close to the game itself, and the physical demands they require, as possible.
Sam Cassell - LAC [SG]
The severity of Sam Cassell's left calf strain was probably similar to Martin's groin. He missed almost exactly a month, returning last Saturday after initially injuring it during a game November 26th. His return was limited to only nine minutes but I'm sure that was planned and not the result of pain. At 38 years old, it figures to test it out, knowing he had a few more days off before the next game, just to see where it's at. He probably had that date on his calendar for weeks, but is expected to get back to his normal routine on the 27th. I expect he's ready to go.
T.J. Ford - TOR [SG]
We should see more from the Raptors and point guard TJ Ford next week; he rejoined the team after Christmas. He spent much of the holidays seeing specialists that should give him a better idea if the head, neck, and shoulder problems he has will prevent him from playing competitive basketball again as the team fears. Hopefully he just had a string of some bad injuries that are not related to the underlying condition in his neck. That condition, spinal stenosis, is a narrowing of the spaces in the spinal cord which causes irritation of the discs, the nerve roots, and even the spinal cord itself. It does predispose athletes to the types of injuries Ford has been dealing with, so we can only wait and see at this point.
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.