How to gain physical strength by using the mind?
Have you ever wondered how powerful is your imagination? Nowadays ordinary people care a lot less about imagination. Maybe athletes are the group of people who use mental imagery for practical purposes. Most of the people relates imagination with dreaming about something. But it is not the same so people who study human imagination have more specific term – mental imagery. So how can we practically use our imagery skills?
Group of researchers gathered 30 young adults to participate in an experiment. People were divided into 4 groups. The first group was trained to perform “mental contractions” of little finger abduction. The second group had to perfom mental contractions of elbow flexion. The third group did not do any mental nor real exercises and served as a control group. And the last group trained their little finger physically.
People had to train for 12 weeks, 15 min per day, 5 days per week. The results were really interesting. All groups who engaged in the training improved in strength. Those who trained their little finger in mental rehearsals improved its strength by 35% while physcial training group improved by 53%. The difference in achieved strength improvement is significant but methods used in training were quite different also.
The authors concluded that the mental training employed in this study enhances the cortical output signal, which drives the muscles to a higher activation level and increases strength. So it means that by applying mental imagery you can affect your body in a positive way and even increase your strength. As I mentioned before mental imagery is widely used by athletes but it can be applied in many different fields e.g. rehabilitation to make healing of traumas faster.