How Elite Athletes Can Inspire Us
We look to super athletes for inspiration in how they train and win. Yet it’s the injuries that show us their true character and grit, while also revealing their technical approach to healing and fighting the aging process. Video is further below...
While delivering a thundering double-handed backhand on the tennis court several years ago, legendary tennis player Rafael Nadal placed his entire weight on his left knee, forcing his quadriceps to step in and stabilize the entire complex of joints.
In that single moment, which involved twisting, turning and extending his body to relay the shot back to his opponent, he ripped his patellar tendon forcing him out of competition for several months.
The Weight of a Champion
Around 1000 pounds of pressure was delivered to the knee joint just as the left heel struck the ground, causing an unbearable hyperextension of the knee just before bending.
Watch the Full Analysis
With the ACL and Medial Meniscus working overtime to compensate, Nadal felt a rush a of pain shoot into the fat pad around his knee. The video below shows the tibia in a fixed position, with the femur still moving; a perfect recipe for disaster as Nadal goes into his fabled body rotation.
This injury turned out to be one of many for this hard-working athlete, with the most recent one coming during the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, forcing him to question the brutal regime of the ATP tour and whether his body can truly stand up to the effects of aging.
Fear of Surgery
The biggest fear for athletes, especially once they go beyond the age of 30 is the looming spectre of surgery. The risks, long-layoffs and indeterminate outcomes make them rightly weary, leading them to seek out the latest advances in medical science for alternatives,
How Nadal Approaches Knee Rehabilitation
While they may be genetically gifted, athletes like Nadal are also cognizant of the subtle appearance of osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), giving them another area for concern. Just like us, they cannot escape the affects of aging that escalate with a chronic knee injury.
As you may expect, some of their solutions border on the space-age. For instance, Its been reported that Nadal uses an anti-gravity treadmill machine to gently keep him in shape during injury layoffs, sparing his knee undue pressure and jolting.
However, it’s in the field of Regenerative Medicine that Nadal has often cast his gaze to seek an accelerated healing flight path, without the risks of surgery.
For two consecutive years, Nadal specifically tested out PRP allowing him to recover 100% from a knee injury. He also tried out stem cell therapy for his lower back, which we described in this recent sports medicine article several months ago.
It must be noted that while not every cellular treatment protocol has been 100% completely successful, Nadal recognizes that the procedures become more advanced and powerful each year, giving him greater opportunities to accelerate the knee rehabilitation process.
Stem cells are influencing several areas of medicine, including orthopedic procedures aimed at regenerating cartilage and producing an anti-inflammatory effect.
Typically, this involves harvesting a patient's own bone marrow and fat cells to target joint damage, especially in the knees.
Since Nadal may play close to 80 matches per year, each one grueling in intensity, there is a natural advantage to seeking out alternatives to surgery when injury strikes as per the video above.
To put his statement in perspective consider this statistic: In 1992, the a ground-stroke reached roughly 60 m.p.h in the men’s game. Today that speed may approach 100 m.p.h.
We are thus asking superhuman demands from our athletes. In return, they are asking for alternatives to surgery.
While the video above demonstrates a specific injury to an elite athlete, the truth is any one of us reading this article may experience the same injury while running on the beach or playing catch with our grandson. It could even happen at work while carrying a box up the stairs.
But by observing the injury patterns we see on the tennis court and how super athletes respond to new forms of knee rehabilitation we can repurpose these approaches inside minimally invasive Stem Cell Procedures for our patients in Bonita Springs.
While none of us are machines, we can turn to science and technology to explore safer alternatives to surgery and a faster approach to healing the human body.
Nobody is pursuing this approach more keenly that one of the world’s greatest tennis players, Rafael Nadal. Let's keep watching him - both on and off the court.