Rafael Nadal has been characterized as one of the most skilled, explosive, and athletic tennis players the game has ever seen. But such a dynamic style of play had caused the Spanish phenom to be sidelined for 7 months with potentially career-ending knee tendinitis. Many fans and tennis analysts believed that it was physically impossible for the aging 27 year old to combat his body’s breakdown and return to even a shadow of his former self. But, since his return to the courts, Rafa has soared back to No 1 in the world with an astounding 65-4 record and 2 Grand Slam victories. Teaming up with medical experts, Rafa has managed to serve up yet another Ace to fuel his epic comeback from injury: Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), commonly referred to as, “Blood spinning”, due to the nature by which it is created from a person’s own blood, has burst onto the professional sports scene in recent years, treating high profile athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and now Rafael Nadal. PRP is a concentrated mixture of cells, mainly platelets, extracted from a person’s own blood via high velocity spinning in a centrifuge. Research has shown that this concentrated platelet layer contains a potent mixture of growth factors and anti-inflammatory mechanisms which promote healing and exhibit regenerative potential. In an interview conducted in 2012, Mikel Sanchez, Nadal’s PRP specialist, stated that PRP is very effective in high performance athletes because “an athlete, who spends more tissue than normal, probably has degenerative lesions in some areas” and with the addition of PRP, “cells are stimulated to manufacture tissue”. Members of Nadal’s rehabilitation team contribute much of the historical comeback to his PRP injection therapy and rigorous physical rehabilitation. The Daily Mail also noted that Nadal supplemented his PRP therapy with eccentric strength training exercises and training on anti-gravity treadmills to enhance his recovery and healing.
Due to a lack of conclusive research about PRP efficacy, skeptics aren’t willing to weigh in on exactly how much of an effect the PRP had on Nadal’s recovery. However, PRP expert Dr Steven Sampson, founder of The Orthohealing Center and global leader in PRP therapy and research, has treated hundreds of patients with Platelet Rich Plasma and seen similar successes. Now, just because you are not the world’s best tennis player, basketball icon, or golf legend, doesn’t mean you can’t have the same injuries and tissue degeneration as they do. Tendinitis, arthritis and other soft tissue injuries can happen to anyone! Everyone has the option to explore the benefits and healing properties of PRP. Dr Sampson believes that PRP therapy can be effective in a myriad of different injuries, and can benefit Weekend Warriors in all activities. Nadal’s use of “blood spinning” to mount a historical comeback is just another example of the vast potential of PRP therapy.
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