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Is Your Mind Your Strongest “Muscle?”

January 18, 2010

Many moons ago I wrote up a post on Visualization.  The theory on visualization is that you put yourself into a trance like state by merely practicing in your head what you’re about to actually do in life.  Think quickly about this and its applications in your life.  Do you envision a meeting before it’s about to occur?  Do you anticipate things before they happen?  If so, then you are practicing a form of visualization to achieve an optimal effect.

Now, skip over to a workout or performance.  When you watch professional athletes prior to an event, you’ll quickly see the application of visualization.  Bobsledders are the absolute best at this.  Even though we only see these guys once every four years in the Olympics, you can routinely watch them in preparation as they weave and lean from side to side as they visualize the course and move with it as though they were on the track.  Not only do they visualize the course, they are also practicing positive mental thinking for a more succesful outcome. 

As a runner, I would always practice visualization, weeks or months before a run or race.  Enter a quiet dark space, close your eyes and anticipate.  I trained my mind to hear the crowd’s cheers, to feel my heart beat elevate with anticipation, to sense the clothing I had and what clothing I would need to be wearing.  I sensed the runners around me, the weather my body would embrace and most of all I practiced what I could do in the event of an obstacle.  By practicing what might go wrong, you could then make a rational decision on how to overcome the obstacle ahead of time and not waste extra energy the day of the race should this problem pop its head.  Indeed, visualization is a strong tool!

Now it appears that visualization can actually increase flexibility!   According to a new study in the Journal of Sports Science, movement and stretch imagery can increase flexibility as it did in a study held with swimmers.  Flexibility has long been held as a standard for increasing performance – now with visualization you can further increase performance.

If you want a new PR or technique for how you can learn to visualize and get into “Your Zone,” then check out these books on Amazon.

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