The Case of Rafael Nadal

New Courts Make Rafa Blue
New Courts Make Rafa Blue

For some years now, I’ve been watching Rafa Nadal and thinking: if only he knew about homeopathy. It seems to me that this man is in serious need of some Rhus Tox, for more reason than one.

Just yesterday, he lost in the third round in Madrid amidst a massive controversy over the new blue courts. You might ask yourself: what difference does it make if the courts are blue? Especially as many of the hard courts around the world are the same glowing blue colour.  Apparently, this clay is more slippery than the regular red clay, which seems a fair objection–this might make it more dangerous for the players.  However, all the players are in the same position in this regard so at least the field is level.

Nadal hates the new blue courts so much that he is threatening to boycott the tournament if they don’t switch it back. Now I don’t mean to be passing judgement on Nadal for his rigid attitude, rather I just see that this inflexibility is costing him in more ways than one, and he obviously needs homeopathic treatment for this, let alone for his chronic physical issues.  One journalist commented how Nadal’s “obsession” with the blue courts laid the groundwork for his early loss. I also saw a quote from the man himself, saying that the courts shouldn’t be blue because “red is the colour of the earth”.  Well, I guess that’s true enough (?).

This seems to me like another glimpse at a problematic mental rigidity lurking beneath the surface of the “King of Clay’s” strong exterior.  The body follows the mind, so attitude is key.  An inflexible mind and body are much more prone to injury. At 25 years old, Nadal has long suffered from tendonitis in both knees.  He’s had a couple of surgeries, and spent a good deal of 2011 out of the game recovering from injury.

Something we can observe about Rafa, which is useful for a homeopathic analysis, is that he is extremely superstitious and ritualistic.  To me, this is an expression of rigid thinking, as well as a key mental symptom in Rhus Tox.  While many pro athletes have their routines and lucky charms (and maybe they need Rhus Tox too), I think it’s fair to say that Rafa takes his rituals a little bit more seriously than average.

For example, he has a ritual about touching the baseline and walking across the lines in a certain way;  before a point, you will see him coming from the back of the court to the baseline which he uses as a path to his next position.  When he drinks his water and creatine during the breaks, he religiously places the two bottles back on the ground in a specific position–kind of on a diagonal from each other.  He will even take the time, after having placed these magical plastic bottles, to adjust them ever so slightly this way or that, so that they are exactly where they need to be.  Perhaps the labels need to be facing in or out.

Anyone who has ever seen Nadal play has doubtless noticed his (infamous) pre-service ritual, consisting of a few bounces, a tip of the foot, adjustment of his shorts, tucking his hair behind one ear, pulling on his nose, and tucking his hair behind the other ear. Every single time.  Apparently this routine has been habitual since he was a child.  Not surprisingly, over the years these behaviour patterns have brought Rafa time violations as well as complaints about speed of play from his colleagues.

As for useful modalities in order to form a good prescription for Rafa, he loves the sun, so we can likely presume that he is better for heat, which is a classic aspect of the Rhus Tox picture.  As a confirmatory symptom, we may be able to claim that Rafa is somewhat better for motion as you will never see his legs still for a moment, even when he is sitting.  This, however, is not uncommon amongst tennis players as many of them try to keep their muscles active during a rest.

So here’s the sure-fire symptoms we’ve got on Rafa:



Inflammation of the tendons

Pain in the knees

With these four symptoms alone, we have enough to prescribe Rhus Tox.  Add in the possible modalities of amelioration from heat and some restlessness, and I think there’s a pretty good case for this remedy.  It’s very likely that Rhus-t could enhance Rafa’s performance and extend his career by many years to come.  If you know him, you might want to tell him…then again better not, ’cause I’m a Federer fan and now it looks as though Fed could be set to win in Madrid :).

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