Athletic Excellence - Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys Mon, 22 May 2017 17:29:26 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Imagery Increases Muscle Strength

Researchers from the Centre of Research and Innovation in Sport, at the University Claude Bernard and the University of Lyon in Villeurbanne, France, examined whether mental imagery (MI) training can increase muscle strength, especially when movements are under the control of large cortical areas in the primary motor cortex. (It has already been well established that it improves motor performance and motor learning.)

This pilot study experiment assessed whether MI can improve upper and lower limb strength, with complex, multi-joint exercises. 

Nine participants were included in the MI group and 10 in the control (CTRL) group. The 2 groups performed identical bench press and leg press exercises. The MI group was instructed to visually imagine and kinesthetically feel the corresponding contractions during the rest period, whereas the CTRL group carried out a neutral task.

Differences were measured by maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) and maximal number of repetitions (MR), using 80% of the pre-test MVC weight.

Although both the experimental and control groups enhanced their strength through the training sessions, the leg press MVC was significantly higher in the MI group than in the CTRL group (p<0.05). The interaction between the leg press MR and the group was marginally significant (p=0.076).  However, investigators did not find any difference between the MI and CTRL groups, both in the bench press MVC or MR.

They conclude that MI-related training may contribute to the improvement of lower limbs performance by enhancing the technical execution of the movement, and the individual intrinsic motivation.

From an applied and practical perspective, they report that athletes may perform imagined muscles contractions, most especially during the rest periods of their physical training, to contribute to the enhancement of concentric strength.

Citation:  Lebon F, Collet C, Guillot A. Benefits of motor imagery training on muscle strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010 Jun; 24 (6): pp. 1680-7.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 04 Sep 2011 19:00:00 -0400
Guided Relaxation & Exercise Imagery = A Powerful Combo for Seniors

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of a 6-wk intervention that used guided relaxation and exercise imagery (GREI) to increase self-reported leisure-time exercise behavior among older adults.

A total of 93 community-dwelling healthy older adults (age 70.38 ± 8.15 yr, 66 female) were randomly placed in either a placebo control group or an intervention group. The intervention group received instructions to listen to an audio compact disk (CD) containing a GREI program, and the placebo control group received an audio CD that contained 2 relaxation tracks and instructions to listen to music of their choice for 6 wk.

Results revealed that listening to a GREI CD for 6 wk significantly increased self-reported leisure-time exercise behaviors (p = .03). Further exploration of GREI and its effects on other psychological variables related to perceived exercise behaviors may substantiate its effectiveness.

Citation:  Kim BH, Newton RA, Sachs ML, Giacobbi PR, Glutting JJ. The effect of guided relaxation and exercise imagery on self-reported leisure-time exercise behaviors in older adults. Journal of aging and physical activity. 2011 Apr; 19 (2): pages 137-46.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 24 Jul 2011 19:00:00 -0400
Guided Imagery Helps Chinese Astronauts with Centrifuge Training

Researchers from the Astronaut Research and Training Center in Beijing, China looked at whether guided imagery can reduce the anxiety and tension that astronauts feel during centrifuge training (designed to improve their tolerance of hypergravity) and which can impede their responses.  This small study measured the impact of guided imagery vs. music on changes in anxiety, heart rate and heart rate variability in 12 healthy young men before, during and after centrifuge training.

Change in the patterns of anxiety was different in the two groups over the three phases. Anxiety (measured by State Anxiety Inventory) in the GI group changed from 31.7 +/- 5.9 to 26.8 +/- 2.6 and 27.8 +/- 4.1, whereas for the music group this changed from 32.2 +/- 7.6 to 31.2 +/- 8.3 and 26.8 +/- 6.8. 

During centrifuge training, the maximal HR for the GI group (101.2 +/- 8.8) was lower than that of the music group (123.0 +/- 19.1). In addition GI showed a decrease in low frequency (LF, 0.04-0.15 Hz) components and an increase in high frequency (HF, 0.15-0.4 Hz) components before and after centrifuge training.

The investigators conclude that guided imagery is capable of decreasing tension, anxiety, and sympathetic nervous system activity pre- or post-centrifugation.

Citation:  Jing X, Wu P, Liu F, Wu B, Miao D. Guided imagery, anxiety, heart rate and heart rate variability during centrifuge training. Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine. 2011 Feb; 82 (2): pp. 92-6.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 01 May 2011 19:00:00 -0400
Motor Imagery Improves Stretching and Flexibility

Researchers from the Centre de Recherche et d'Innovation sur le Sport at the Universite Claude Bernard-Lyon in Cedex, France, were interested in investigating whether imagery can improve stretching and flexibility the way it has been found to enhance learning and motor performance.
They compared flexibility scores in 21 synchronized swimmers before and after a 5-week mental practice program that included five stretching exercises in active and passive conditions.

The imagery training program resulted in selective increased flexibility, regardless of the stretching method. Overall, the improvement in flexibility was greater in the imagery group than in the control group for the front split (F(1,18) = 4.9, P = 0.04), the hamstrings (F(1,18) = 5.2, P = 0.035), and the ankle stretching exercises (F(1,18) = 5.6, P = 0.03).
There was no difference in shoulders and side-split flexibility (F(1,18) = 0.1, P = 0.73 and F(1,18) = 3.3, P = 0.08 respectively).

Finally, there was no correlation between individual imagery ability and improvement in flexibility.
The researchers conclude that psychological and physiological effects of motor imagery may increase range of motion, suggesting that imagery enhances joint flexibility during both active and passive stretching.

Citation:  Guillot A, Tolleron C, Collet C.  Does motor imagery enhance stretching and flexibility? Journal of Sports Science. 2010 Feb; 28 (3):pages 291-8.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 08 Aug 2010 20:00:00 -0400
End State Imagery Helps Nursing Students Learn How to Give IM Injections

Researchers from the Department of Nursing, Pochon CHA University in Kyonggi-Do, Korea, compared the impact of feeling state guided imagery (FSGI – imagery to generally improve mood) and end state guided imagery (ESGI – imagery to imagine successful performance) on stress levels and quality of performance in nursing students learning to give intramuscular (IM) injections.

The subjects were 40 female sophomores (21 for the ESGI, 19 for the FSGI). The instruments used were the Visual Analogue Scale for Stress and the Nursing Skill Performance Check-list on Intramuscular Injection, developed by the researchers. Guided imagery was provided through audiotapes for 8 minutes. A pretest was given before applying the guided imagery; the first posttest was taken after the intervention; and the second posttest was taken before the intramuscular injection.  Evaluation of the performance of the intramuscular injection was done immediately afterward. 

Investigators found that the level of stress for those who received the ESGI and FSGI was not significant and the level of the nursing skill performance for those who received the ESGI was significantly higher than that of students who received the FEGI.  They conclude that end state imagery is effective for students learning psychomotor nursing skills.  Further research is needed to learn more about how to impact stress.  

Citation:  Suk M, Oh W, Kil S . Guided imagery types on stress and performance of an intramuscular injection of nursing students Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Oct; 36 (6): pages 976-82. [Article in Korean]

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 28 Dec 2008 18:00:00 -0500
Visuo-motor learning with combination of different rates of motor imagery and physical practice.

Imagery Rehearsal Found Critical in Motor Rehab for Stroke, Better than Physical Practice Alone

Researchers from the University of Lyon in Bron Cedex, France tested whether "mental rehearsal" (motor imagery) is equivalent to physical learning in restoring motor function in hemiplegic patients (paralyzed on one side), and examined what would be optimal proportions of real execution vs. rehearsal.

Subjects were asked to grasp an object and insert it into an adapted slot. One group (G0) practiced the task only by physical execution (240 trials); three groups imagined performing the task in different rates of trials (25%, G25; 50%, G50; 75%, G75), and physically executed movements for the remaining trials; a fourth, control group imagined a visual rotation task in 75% of the trials and then performed the same motor task as the other groups.

Movement time (MT) was compared for the first and last physical trials, together with other key trials, across groups. The study found that all groups learned, suggesting that mental rehearsal is equivalent to physical motor learning.

More importantly, when subjects rehearsed the task for large numbers of trials (G50 and G75), the movement time of the first executed trial was significantly shorter than the first executed trial in the physical group (G0), indicating that mental practice is better than no practice at all.

Comparison of the first executed trial in G25, G50 and G75 with the corresponding trials in G0 (61, 121 and 181 trials), showed equivalence between mental and physical practice. At the end of training, the performance was much better with high rates of mental practice (G50/G75) compared to physical practice alone (G0), especially when the task was difficult.

These findings confirm that mental rehearsal can be beneficial for motor learning and suggest that imagery might be used to supplement or partly replace physical practice in clinical rehabilitation.

Citation: Allami N, Paulignan Y, Brovelli A, Boussaoud D. Visuo-motor learning with combination of different rates of motor imagery and physical practice. Experimental Brain Research. 2008 Jan; 184 (1): pages 105-13. Epub 2007 Sep 12.
]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Thu, 01 May 2008 15:14:36 -0400
Motor imagery and action observation: cognitive tools for rehabilitation.

In Neurological Rehab, Imagining Movement Delivers the Goods

A Dutch literature review concludes that imagining movement creates the same flow of sensory information that leads to the reacquisition of motor skills.

In rehab, active exercising creates the flow of sensory information responsible for the learning or relearning of lost (or newly needed) motor skills. This review article addresses whether active physical exercise is always necessary for creating this sensory flow.

It points to numerous studies indicating that motor imagery can result in the same plastic changes in the motor system that actual physical practice provides. Motor imagery is the mental execution of a movement without any overt, corresponding movement or without any peripheral (muscle) activation.


Brain scans show that motor imagery leads to the activation of the same brain areas as actual movement. In addition, it suggests that it is possible that even observation of a movement performed by another can play a similar role in learning.

This review concludes that the use of motor imagery in neurological rehabilitation can be defended on theoretical grounds and on the basis of the results of a handful of experimental studies.

Citation: Mulder T. Motor imagery and action observation: cognitive tools for rehabilitation. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2007; 114 (10): pages 1265-78. Epub 2007 Jun 20.
]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Thu, 17 Apr 2008 13:29:01 -0400
Guided motor imagery helps with athletic performance, neurological conditions.

Guided Motor Imagery Helps with Athletic Performance, Neurological Conditions

Investigators at the University of Haifa in Israel reviewed the literature to determine the positive effects of guided motor imagery practice on motor performance. There is abundant evidence that motor performance is improved in athletes, people who are healthy, and people with neurological conditions, such as stroke, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease. This article discusses how to integrate motor imagery into a physical therapy practice and goes into particulars of visual and kinesthetic motor imagery, factors that modify motor imagery practice, the design of motor imagery protocols, and potential applications of motor imagery.

Citation: Dickstein R, Deutsch JE. Motor imagery in physical therapist practice. Physical Therapy. 2007 Jul; 87 (7): pages 942-53. Epub 2007 May 1

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Athletic Excellence Fri, 28 Mar 2008 06:41:00 -0400
Sports-Injured Athletes in Rehab Gung Ho for Imagery

Researchers from the School of Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario investigated how ten sports-injured athletes used guided imagery during the course of their physiotherapy treatment. In-depth interviews established that the athletes clearly believed the imagery served cognitive, motivational and healing purposes in effectively rehabilitating their injury.

The athletes used cognitive imagery to learn and properly perform their rehabilitation exercises. They employed motivational imagery for goal setting (e.g. imagining being fully recovered) and to enhance mental toughness, help maintain concentration and foster a positive attitude.

Imagery was also used to manage pain. The methods employed for controlling pain included using imagery to practice dealing with expected pain, using imagery as a distraction, imagining the pain dispersing, and using imagery to block the pain.

They employed both visual and kinaesthetic imagery, and their images tended to be positive and accurate.

The study concluded that the implementation of imagery alongside physical rehabilitation served to enhance the rehabilitation experience and, therefore, facilitate the recovery rates of the injured athletes. Moreover, the investigators recommended that those responsible for the treatment of injured athletes (e.g. medical doctors, physiotherapists) should understand the benefits of imagery in athletic injury rehabilitation, since it is these practitioners who are in the best position to encourage injured athletes to use imagery.

Citation: Driediger M, Hall C, Callow N. Imagery use by injured athletes: a qualitative analysis. Journal of Sports Science. 2006 Mar; 24 (3): pages 261-71.
]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Athletic Excellence Fri, 07 Mar 2008 08:33:00 -0500
Coaches' encouragement of athletes' imagery use.

A Canadian survey of coaches and athletes finds that guided imagery is consistently used more for competition than for recreational athletics, and for higher level athletes (international, national & varsity competition) .

Researchers from the School of Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada looked at whether coaches encourage their athletes to use imagery, using a survey given to coaches and another given to athletes. In the first, 317 athletes completed the Coaches'' Encouragement of Athletes'' Imagery Use Questionnaire. In the second, 215 coaches completed a slightly modified version of this questionnaire.

The study found that coaches and athletes generally agreed on the relative frequency with which coaches encourage athletes to use imagery. Coaches promoted imagery use more in conjunction with competition than training and injury rehabilitation, and higher-level competition coaches encouraged imagery use far more than their recreational counterparts. In addition, the level of athlete being coached had a major impact on how much or how little coaches encouraged their athletes to use imagery. Coaches encouraged higher level athletes (i.e., international, national, varsity competitors) to use imagery more than club and recreational athletes.

Citation: Jedlic B, Hall N, Munroe-Chandler K, Hall C. Coaches' encouragement of athletes' imagery use. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2007 Sep; 78 (4): pages 351-63.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Athletic Excellence Thu, 27 Dec 2007 10:10:27 -0500