Mental Imagery for Each Stage of Sport Recovery


Whilst reading a really interesting report entitled ‘Using Mental Imagery to Improve the Return from Sport Injury‘ J Hamson Ph.D. highlighted some really important aspect of sports recovery.

Dr Hamson sets out the 3 stages of sports recovery as:

  1. 1. Initial injury, which is accompanied by swelling, muscle tension, pain, and lack mobility;
  2. 2. Strengthening, which is accompanied by return of mobility and reduction of swelling and pain; and
  3. 3. Return to sport, which is accompanied by near normal function and strength of the injured joint

In her report, Dr Hamson then goes on to set out the how visualisation can be used at each stage of sports recovery.

The initial injury phase visualisation

  • Relaxation imagery is most helpful to control the pain
  • Healing is the main focus of this phase and calls for the use of healing imagery
  • Education about the injury that has occurred is especially important when healing imagery is utilized to facilitate the formation of accurate images of the healing taking place
  • Individualized verbal scripts (with background relaxation music) are created to guide your mental imagery to the specific joint and/or type of injury

The second phase of rehabilitation visualisation

  • The strengthening phase, requires a different type of imagery. focused on building strength, flexibility, and balance in the injured area.
  • Goal setting becomes a main focus incorporating rehabilitation goals
  • Direct the visualization to act as a motivator.
  • Healing imagery is also useful during this phase.
  • Guided verbal scripts, as well as scripts that include pictures of the athlete completing rehabilitation exercises can serve both the cognitive and motivational functions of imagery.

The final phase of injury rehabilitation visualisation

  • Making final improvements in strength and agility
  • The main focus turns to reducing fear of re-injury and instilling confidence in the rehabilitated joint or inured area.
  • The mental imagery used at this stage includes verbal guidance and visual images of successful past performances.

This great information is exactly how we use visualisation to support the recovery from sports injuries here at The Possible Mind.

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