Brain Power: Using Mental Imagery to Boost Recovery from Sports Injury

 Visual imagery during a cat nap can boost performance and recovery. 

Visual imagery during a cat nap can boost performance and recovery. 

I was reminded of the power of mental imagery recently when learning to breathe bilaterally (to the right and the left) while swimming. I started out visually rehearsing breathing to both sides as I fell asleep. I dreamt about it over and over again. The next day I hopped into the pool and tried to swim bilaterally for the first time. The first 200 yards were ugly; I swallowed a lot of water, but then I was able to do it!

Research has shown that even without physical practice, mentally playing through activity such as running, biking or swimming can carry over into the physical world. And, when combined with actual training has a significant impact in performance over training alone. 

If mental imagery works to enhance performance, then patients resting from sport could benefit from this practice, along with their other therapies, boosting the success of recovery until return to sport is physically possible. 

So, lay down for a cat nap - close those eyes and begin to imagine your moves. When we believe, great things can happen!