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Tennis & Podiatry: Rafael Nadal’s Foot Injury

In the spirit of the Austalian Open, we are placing a focus on Tennis & Podiatry!

For the past 20 years, Rafael Nadal has been a dominant force in global tennis winning 92 ATP singles titles, including 36 Masters titles. What makes his dominance even more impressive is his ongoing but relatively secret battle with a very rare foot condition.

In 2005, just 4 years into his professional tennis career, Nadal was diagnosed with Mueller-Weiss syndrome which is a very rare foot condition characterised by a misshaped navicular bone that causes early onset degenerative arthritis in the surrounding joints that make up the ankle and midfoot,

In particular, it affects the talonavicular joint which is one of the primary joints in the function of changing direction… which happens quite frequently in tennis.

As it is a degenerative condition, there is no cure to stop the arthritic changes to the surrounding joints. In saying that, there must be lots of treatment options available to manage it correctly otherwise Rafael Nadal wouldn’t be the superstar figure that he currently is and has been for such a long period of time.

The main treatment involved for many years for Nadal is the use of custom foot orthotics. Nadal has been very open for many years that orthotics has kept his career going. The custom foot orthotics in place would work to address the inefficiencies present in Nadal’s current biomechanics caused by Mueller-Weiss syndrome and aim to allow his ankle, rearfoot and midfoot to work more efficiently.

In combination with this, Nadal has luckily had great access to footwear through his sponsorship with Nike who have sponsored him since he was 13. Nadal has always worn shoes that aim to provide medial and lateral stability especially when sliding and planting to change direction.

Following the 2022 French Open, Nadal said publicly that he was undergoing radiofrequency therapy which is an invasive procedure that injects small transmitters into the foot and overloads the area with radio wave. Once again, this was not looked at as a cure as such but rather another management tool to dull the pain receptors in the area.

Nadal has been able to have the career he has had thanks to early diagnosis, ongoing treatment and management, and of course lots of resources behind him to help him in whichever way is required.

If you have noticed any differences in your foot health, book an appointment today to check it out and treat the issue earlier, rather than later down the track!

We treat sporting injuries here at TALARIA – PODIATRIST OF THORNBURY, and our sports podiatrist, Mitchell Podhajski, is an expert! If you have any queries, it is worth booking an appointment!

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