A key state of the recovery process for an injured athlete, as well as for those athletes who push themselves in training, is the ability to tolerate pain. A recent study conducted by the University of Kent in England showed that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction—a common meditation technique that utilizes breathing, body awareness and exploration of pattens of behavior, thinking, feeling and action—can help athletes increase their pain tolerance and speed up the recovery process.
In the study, the researchers tested 20 athletes (14 males, six females) who were all in their twenties or thirties who had suffered a severe injury that prevented them from participating in their respective sports for three months or more. The participants were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a control group. The control group received their normal rehabilitation treatment, while the intervention group added a 90-minute mindfulness mediation session once per week for a period of eight weeks.
The researchers used a Cold Presser Test (a cardiovascular test performed by immersing the hand into an ice water container, usually for one minute, and measuring changes in blood pressure and heart rate) to measured pain tolerance, and series of other activities were used to measure mindfulness, depression, anxiety, stress, and mood.
In comparing the control and the intervention groups, the researchers concluded that pain tolerance increased, as did mindful awareness, in the group that performed the mindfulness meditation sessions.
“Injured athletes can benefit from using mindfulness as part of the sport rehabilitation process to increase their pain tolerance and awareness. Further research is required to assess whether increasing pain tolerance could help in the therapeutic process,” the researchers concluded, as stated in an article on the StudyFinds.org website.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Here are good sources for learning about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction:
25 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Exercises and Courses
Interested in learning about how to prevent injury in the first place? Read our article, “How Coaches and Trainers Can Prevent Injury in Their Athletes as They Return to Competition Post-COVID.”
Interested in working with athletes to improve their performance? Learn about our Sports Nutrition or Sports Performance Training concentrations. Earning a degree in exercise science online from Concordia University – Chicago will position you well to work in the fitness and sports industries.