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Utilizing Imagery To Rehabilitate Injury Rehabilitation

In injury rehabilitation, imagery aids athlete to organize goals and provides the motivation to achieve them. Each athlete’s focus is productively channelled toward what they can do, as opposed to what they can’t.  This article explains the process

When an athlete suffers an injury it immediately elicits fears. They have limited or no participation in their recovery. Depression and hopelessness can soon set in. Athletes can spend the time away from sport with “mental practice”. They can visualize. Sport skills, rehearsing strategic plays or game plans, and reviewing past successful performances.


Imagery helps the injured athlete to organize goals. It provides the motivation to achieve them. Each athlete’s focus is productively channelled toward what they can do, as opposed to what they can’t.


Imagery is an effective, positive, and useful method proven to encourage injured athletes during this tough phase. Imagery that incorporates relaxation, visual, emotive, and healing techniques is a great way to help athletes on the road back to playing their sport. It can shorten the recovery period and minimizes the psychological damage to the athlete. It allows the athlete to take part actively in the progression and assume ownership for recovery.

  • Visual imagery allows athletes to see themselves performing the movements of their sport . This hard-wires the brain to maintain their fundamental skills. It also allows the athlete to see the movements that lead to restoration. Self-hypnosis helps the athlete recall the movements more vividly.

  • One of the strongest forms of sensation is emotive memory. It is a significant tool to create a sense of self-efficacy. Memories trigger emotions. They help athletes to transcend the despair that negatively affects the rehabilitation process. In a relaxed hypnotic state the athlete can remember successful experiences. Experiencing success with all the senses enhances healing in the body.

  • Healing mental imagery, visualizing the healing process, is an effective technique. It can decrease anxiety, and enhance recovery from sport injuries. The athlete can sense and see the process of recovery as the body responds. Imagery guides the injured athlete to “see” healing occurring in the injured joint. (e.g., seeing the blood stream bring damaged tissues away from the injury. Reducing swelling, and seeing the new cells repairing the damaged area). They can “feel ” tissues getting stronger. (e.g. visualizing ligaments feeling as strong as steel, or as many fibers linking together).

  • Relaxation imagery (e.g. imagining a pleasant scene such as a waterfall, promotes relaxation of the musculature surrounding the injured joint. It allows for blood flow to return to normal and encouraging healing and rebuilding in the area. With injury, blood flow is increased to the joint or injured area. It causes swelling, pain, and immobility.

    Pain following injury is also produced by muscle spasms. This is evidence of the body’s attempt to protect the injured area from further damage. Relaxation can alter the injured joint/area. It does this by causing physical changes at the injury site. Relaxation has been shown to aid in reducing pain associated with injury and injury rehabilitation


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