Meditation can help injured athletes recover

Meditation can help injury, study finds.

New research out of the UK has looked at how meditation practice might be used to treat athletic injury.

When athletes get injured, they can experience both physical and emotional distress. Thus, one of the aims of the research was to look at how meditation might be used in pain management, as well as to investigate how to increase injured athletes’ positive moods.

The study from scientists at the University of Canterbury believe this is the first time a mindfulness practice has been used to treat injury to athletes.

The study

Researchers tested 20 athletes between the ages of 21 and 36 (14 male, six female) who all had serious sports injuries. The injuries were severe enough that they were not able to participate in sport for more than three months.

The athletes were divided into two groups. One group that undertook mindfulness meditation in addition to physiotherapy treatment and a control group that undertook physiotherapy only.

The meditation group had one 90-minute session per week for eight weeks. The meditation technique used was Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Both groups were assessed using scales that measure pain tolerance, mental health and mindfulness.

The results

The study found that the meditation group had an increased pain tolerance compared to the control group.

Using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), the researchers found that the meditation group was significantly higher in ‘mindful awareness’. This means that the participants in this group “understood how to pay attention, live in the present moment, and increase their level of body awareness”.

In addition, both groups experienced a positive change in mood, likely due to the physiotherapy.

The researchers believe this study shows that injured athletes can benefit from using “mindfulness as part of the sport rehabilitation process to increase their pain tolerance and awareness”.

Further research will include assessing how pain management can help the therapeutic process.

Reference

Mohammed, W.A., Pappous, A. and Sharma, D. (2018) ‘Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes.’ Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722

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