When my oldest was about 11 years old he had a coach who taught the players to visualize what they wanted to accomplish on the playing field. He had them do this before every game on the way to the field. It was his way of having his players focus on the task at hand so that they showed up thinking about the sport and their contribution to the team. I’ve never forgotten this tool and taught my other kids to use it too regardless of what sport they were playing.
After becoming disabled by Ciprofloxacin at the young age of 46 and suffering all kinds of neurological damage I began reading about the brain-body connection. I read a couple books about how to retrain the brain and develop new neurological connections. You see I was told by several neurologists that my brain wasn’t communicating with my muscles properly and I wanted to try to reestablish that connection. I remember reading about a study that involved visualization only this one had to do with physical strength. In the study they had their control group, a group that did specific physical exercises and a third group that just visualized doing those same specific exercises. The results were surprising in that after completion of the study and assessment of the participants they learned that those in the study who merely thought/visualized doing the exercises showed significant gains in strength. When compared to the group that actually did all the exercises they were only about 15-20% (if memory serves) less strong and had made significant gains in strength over the group that didn’t do any exercise. Just let that sink in for a minute… Visualizing doing the exercise increased their strength only slightly less than actually physically doing the exercise.
You might be wondering why I’m talking about this but I feel it’s extremely important for those of us floxed. The reason is this; many of us become bedridden or fatigued to the point that we’re unable to exercise which we all know is important to maintaining strength. But physical exercise often puts those of us floxed at risk of injury to our tendons and joints especially for those that cycle or flare. I’m telling you about a way to maintain some muscle strength without putting yourself at risk of a tendon tear, fall or excessive fatigue or some other type of injury. It’s a method that I myself have used especially when I’ve been in too much pain or some injury has prevented me from being mobile. I have noticed that when I am practicing visualization and thinking of a specific exercise (usually from my years of taking Pilates) I can actually feel small muscle contractions and movements in the groups of muscles involved in the exercise.
I’m telling you about this now because I recently mentioned it to a couple of my floxed friends for their specific and most debilitating injuries in an effort to help them strengthen surrounding muscles so that their muscles might better support them structurally. Just like any new exercise regimen I recommend starting with a few light reps daily and increasing the amount and duration of your visualization sessions slowly and as tolerated. And as always please listen to your body! You know yourself better than anyone else so trust yourself.
If you want to maintain some level of fitness and muscle strength without putting yourself at risk of injury I feel this visualization technique offers one of the safest ways to do so. And of course as with any exercise program don’t forget to visually stretch out after your muscles are warmed up! Yes I have used visualization to stretch my muscles after these sessions and can feel the muscles relax and loosen up. I think you’ll be amazed at what you can do. If you’re bedridden, in a wheelchair or use a walker like I do this is a great way to maintain a certain level of muscular strength. I suggest making this a part of your daily life to see what it can do for you and let me know how it goes if you want to. Stay strong and keep the faith that this can get better. I wish you all the best.
Yours in Health,
Note: I just watched the Netflix documentary called “Heal” and there are some interesting stories on visualization improving health and recovering from injury in it. I highly recommend viewing it if you are able. If this technique can help to build strength and stretch muscles then who knows what else it can do for us?!