A champion made out of pain
Nadal lives with extreme physical situations, that would have driven many into depression. He suffers a chronical tendinitis in his kneecap, the inner part of one of his feet tends to descend while walking too (I really have no idea how to explain this, but if I understood the info correctly, Rafa has a flat foot, does that word exisist in english? ) And he has got to the point to sumerge in water with ice to mitigate the pain.
PALMA- He is a champion made out of pain. Consolidated as the second best tennis player of the world, he is able to remain in top of the circuit thanks to his enormous capacity to sacrifice.
Nadal is a mental beast, who lives, with only 21, phisical problems that normally show up much later, on the last track in the career of a professional sportsman, that would have cause serious depressions in the majority of his rivals.
Because of his chronical tendinitis in his kneecap he suffers since two seasons, Rafa can´t make a consistent career, and has to dose his effort in order to not suffer the stress fracture in his right foot like in 2004 again, which forced him to do a long, sporadic rest to reduce the inflamation in his tendons and ease the pain.
Extreme measures. He tried everything, even the therapy of shock waves, in which the affected zone is hitted hard to provoke a bruise, improve the blood circulation and end with the calcifications. A voluntary torture in which he subjects himself a few times a week, though Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, his doctor, suspects that it isn´t that effective anymore. But it´s not the only extreme treatment he tried. In January, after defeating Andy Murray in the first Grand Slam of the season, The Australian Open, he sumerged into a tub full of ice six in the morning in order to mitigate the consequences of his effort. It wasn´t the first time. Neither the last.
The roots of everything seems to lay in his physical constitution. Nadal has "flat feet" and therefore, he overloads them. When he touches the ground, the inner part of his feet is pushed down extremely. When the foot needs to elevate, it keeps pushing itself to the inside, and creates a diversion. Obviously with this kind of diversion, the inner part of his shoes are being deteriotated. This move creates an overload on his joints provoked by the way he stands on his feet. This indicates that all the weight goes to that zone and hurts.
Of course, a "flat foot" is more exposed to suffer injuries in its ligaments, and maybe that explains the cause of the stress fracture in his right foot in 2004, that kept him away for 4 months, and from which he could never fully recover, in spite of all the treatments he went through.
One of them was the implantations of special insoles, designed after a deep biomechanical research, which in theory should have corrected his support position to avoid contractures, but he never could fully adapt to them either. The result of that was that he had to stay away from the circuit for long 4 months, from October 2005 to February 2006, and during 2007, even though he didn´t suffer such long breaks, he had to interrupt his activity many times, the last one of them, in the previous weeks of the Master Cup in Shanghai.
Raised in a privileged family environment, Rafa inherited his uncle´s capacity to sacrifice. The football player Miquel Angel Nadal, a titan who manage to play a match for Mallorca with a broken toe, or who refused to leave the field in spite of having a punctured lung and suffering huge pain. Miquel Angel had to go through a tendinitis in his kneecap too, and back problems. But he never complained. "There were days-he remembers- when I woke up and put my foot on the floor, I saw stars. But I guess that the pain is part of the life a sportsman has. And Rafa knows that too."
The living example of his uncle serves him to accept what is necesary. Just like the endless sessions of rehab his physiotherapist, Miquel Maymó, makes him go through after every match, in which he tries to get a muscular balance where the joints can be in an ideal state. The job concentrates on the recentration of the joints in order to avoid injuries, and in regard to the tendinitis, for his knees he performs isometric and eccentrics excercises of quadriceps so the tendon can take consistency.
When his ankle inflamates, they apply creams in order to retrieve its normal state. And when the situation is desperate, there is no better medecine than a bath of contrast. Or the same thing, get in a tub full of ice water.
On the court, besides from the insoles, Nadal needs protection in his kneecap. That´s why they are doing a orthopedical treatment, a tape under his kneecap or a circular tape under the lower pole of the kneecap or a knee protection centered in his kneecap, though for the next season they are thinking about the possibility to extend the protection to his quadricep. (<----that doesn't sound good
Without infiltrations. Until now, Rafa has endured everything, and that will be the tendency for the next season, which will start in January in Australia. Nothing indicates that the pain will fade away, and even though for the moment, it has been succesfull to avoid the inflitrations, injections of corticoesteroids that are introduced to almost three times in an interval of one or two weeks in the affected zone, are prepared, and they don´t disccard the possibility to use them one day.
A case similar to Nadal´s is unknown. Of course that in the professional circuit, we don´t know such a case. And in his attempt for the number one spot, Rafa claimes to be only able to compete in equal physical conditions as the rest. Surely in that case, nobody could stop him. Not even Federer.