Sports Training and Healing
Mental rehearsal and mindfulness are the rage in elite sports training. From Olympic gymnasts, to college football, imagery has helped athletes perfect their performance for decades. Athletes (and non-athletes) now also use mental imagery to heal from injuries.￼
The body and mind are not separate. The key is to harness the mind to benefit the body. That takes training.
Mental imagery–body-mind with purpose
Mental rehearsal creates much of the same body training response as physical training. The Huffington post writes, “Former Olympic gold medal-winning decathlon runner Bruce Jenner once said, ‘You have to train your mind like you train your body.’ He’s echoing an athletic maxim that’s practically a cliché: sports are 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”
The Russians first introduced mental rehearsal by sweeping the Olympic gold medals in gymnastics. Since then, it has been used successfully to win at tennis, alpine skiing, by sprinters, and many more sports.
How does imagined movement train your body when you don’t actually move? Visualization is an advanced training technique in sports psychology. The brain areas that coordinate how you imagine, move, and feel are all connected. They project the movement plans through the nerves to the muscles.
They also receive feedback from your body about whether the movement matches the plan. So your brain and body, in a split second, can assess the accuracy of the movement and simultaneously correct it. Thus, the muscles and nerves get trained to match the planning.
From sports to healing–the kinesthetic advantage
Like us, athletes also get hurt. Can those same principles help us heal? Emily Cook, of the US freestyle ski team gives an example, “One of the most important components of imagery is kinesthetic imagery. Actually feeling your body go through the motions.”
She worked with a psychologist named Detling since 2002. Cook was recovering from broken bones in both feet after a crash. Imagery was one of their main strategies so that she could both see and feel her bones heal.￼
Healing from a broken arm￼
Other research tested healthy adults with their forearms immobilized in a cast for three weeks. Half of the group used mental imagery of exercises and the other group did not.￼ Then the casts were removed.￼
The ￼￼mentally-trained muscles had less atrophy, and regained strength more quickly. The results support what Emily Cook was saying about kinesthetic imagery: not just to imagine a picture of movement, but also feel it happening.
Mindfulness and Body-Mind Healing
However, when we are in pain, or ill, or have experienced trauma, we may have more trouble with focus and concentration. So, rather than wait, how about starting body-mind training now? It’s good practice for any condition.
Healing with Integration Massage
My main bodywork technique is Ortho-Bionomy®. It works with your body in the direction of ease and comfort. As one client states, “It makes me feel more relaxed, and better emotionally.” As the body relaxes out of pain and tension, the mind follows. From that relaxed state, you can project alternatives to the “fight or flight” mode that feeds forward into your life.
A close second for how it helps clients heal is Mindful Awareness in Bodywork Therapies (MABT). Although I had been using mind-body approaches before, MABT unifies many of them. With a gentle touch, I encourage awareness of sensation, movement and breath. It is like mindfulness in the form of healing for people in pain, emotional distress, or suffering from trauma.
As well, I use a variety of other mindfulness practices to help you heal. I encourage mental imagery. I teach you to use your breath to release stress. From Alexander Technique, and Hanna’s Somatics I developed Movement Education. Whether you are a desk worker, or dancer, I always include home exercises. You can reclaim your body, and feel empowered. As much as you release postures that bind you, you also release old beliefs and painful emotions.
Please feel free to Schedule Appointment or call 503-708-2911. Let’s get moving again!
Ortho-Bionomy® is a registered trademark of the Society of Ortho-Bionomy International, Inc. and is used with permission.