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New Study: Mindfulness Training Reduces Stress, Negative Thinking, and Injury in Student-Athletes Aged 13-24

13 Aug

Listen up, high school and college sports departments, rehab professionals and physiatry departments, not to mention athletes and their parents!! Here’s something to think about as various fall sports practices begin.

We all know that student athletes are under a lot of pressure. They experience a variety of stressors from school and social activities, in addition to the considerable demands of sport participation.

We also know that mindfulness-based interventions can generally help increase mental awareness and acceptance, as well as mitigate negative thoughts and emotions.

So the question this review of the literature asks is whether mindfulness training can reduce negative thoughts, remediate stress, reduce injuries, and support a general sense of well-being in student-athletes, aged 13-24 yrs old.

Petterson and Olson searched the literature, turning up 8 possible studies, of which three met the inclusion criteria (1 randomized control trial and 2 nonrandomized control cohort studies).

All 3 studies demonstrated overall improved levels of mindfulness in the student-athletes after the training, and positive effects for reducing negative thoughts and lowering levels of perceived stress.

In addition, the number of injuries consistently decreased following mindfulness training.

The bottom line conclusion: there is Grade B evidence to support the use of mindfulness-based training with student-athletes, to increase mindfulness, manage negative emotions, and lower perceived stress, as well as improve overall quality of life and reduce stress-related injuries. 

Petterson H, Olson BL. Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in High School and College Athletes for Reducing Stress and Injury, and Improving Quality of Life. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2017 Nov; 26 (6): pp 578-587.


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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award