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Aurora Physical Therapy Team Explains the Benefits of Meditation for Athletes

March 29, 2021

As an athlete, you know that keeping your body in peak condition isn’t always easy. Injuries can derail your progress and keep you from performing at all. And while your Denver physical therapy team is here to help you recover from your injuries and rebuild strength quickly, it’s up to you to find ways to speed that recovery even further. One of the best things you can do for both your physical and mental health is to meditate. The practice is thousands of years old and has been proven to offer the following benefits to those that do it often.

Improves Focus

Meditation can actually help you concentrate and improve your focus every day. It does this by giving your mind a chance to relax and unwind by guiding your thoughts away from the worries, fears, and stressors you’re constantly dealing with. 

Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t involve focusing on absolutely nothing. Well, unless you want it to. That practice is known as Zen meditation and it’s one of the hardest types of meditation for new practitioners to master. Most people choose to focus on the feeling of their breath or listen to a guided meditation that has them focus on different visuals, sounds, or sensations. You won’t have to clear your mind. Instead, you’ll guide your thoughts away from the things you’re worried about.

When you’re done with your meditation session, your mind will have had a chance to relax and you’ll be able to approach challenges with more clarity and focus. 

Boosts Your Immune System

Stress doesn’t just impact your ability to focus. It can also weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to viruses, germs, and diseases. When you’re trying to recover from an injury quickly, getting sick can make that recovery take longer than it should. Just imagine hurting your back, catching a cold, and making the injury worse just by sneezing!

Meditating can help boost your immune system by helping alleviate feelings of stress and overwhelm. It’s not a one-session-cure-all solution. It’s something you have to take time to do each day. But even giving yourself a few minutes to focus on something other than your mind racing and worrying about situations and circumstances you can’t control or change.

When you do this anytime you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, you’ll keep yourself from falling into that stress-thought spiral which will give your immune system the opportunity to stay as strong as it possibly can. 

Makes Dealing With Pain Easier

Meditation can be an effective tool to help you cope with pain and discomfort without succumbing to feelings of anger and helplessness. It gives you a way to change your thought process and, as an added bonus, can help your muscles relax. 

When your muscles are less tense, your injury will likely start to hurt less and, even better, may heal faster. It’s not a substitute for physical therapy, but it can help you recover faster and makes your physical therapy more effective. 

If you feel flareups of pain while you’re recovering, the same meditation techniques you use to relax during sessions can help take the edge off. All you have to do is turn your thoughts to your breath or your chosen focus point. This allows you to relax and breathe around the pain, taking your attention away from the sensation of discomfort and redirecting it to something beneficial.

Helps You Overcome Fear

Performance anxiety is something that impacts even the most experienced professional athletes. And while it’s normal to get a bit nervous before a competition, your fear shouldn’t be overpowering your sense of confidence and self-esteem. Worse, once those feelings kick in, it’s easy to let that fear build up until it’s enough to keep you from performing successfully.

By meditating, you’ll refocus your thoughts on something you choose and away from those emotions. You can choose a meditation technique that has you focusing on a mantra to build your confidence or meditate on a successful race, focusing on the emotions you feel once you cross the finish line.

You don’t even have to carve out a set time to run through that meditation. Just turn your attention inward and away from your anxious thoughts as soon as they pop up. 

Stabilizes Sleep Patterns

Meditation is all about helping you feel more relaxed and comfortable. When you’re recovering from an injury, it’s normal for that injury and the stress you’re dealing with to keep you up at night. Nothing is worse than racing thoughts that interrupt your sleep patterns! 

Lack of sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling sluggish in the morning. It also makes you more vulnerable to getting sick and makes it harder for your body to recover. 

By meditating on a regular basis, you’ll quiet those racing thoughts and relax the tension in your muscles that contribute to sensations of pain. Over time, you’ll start to sleep better and wake more rested. 

Keep in mind that seeing results from meditating to help you sleep can take time. Be patient with yourself and keep working at it. Eventually, you’ll see an improvement in your sleep quality. 

Makes Analyzing Your Performance Easier

As an athlete, you need to constantly find ways to improve your performance. But when you’re in the middle of a competition or so set in your routine, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the things you’re doing. Meditating can help you turn your focus on yourself and identify the ways in which you can improve.

You can replay your training sessions in your mind and analyze the things you did without being in the moment. This helps you better identify your weaknesses and your strengths so you can make the necessary changes to improve your game.

Meditation With Physical Therapy Is Always Ideal

If you’re recovering from an injury, combining meditation with your routine physical therapy sessions can help you recover faster and more effectively. But you need to work with the right physical therapist. Contact our team to schedule a consultation today.