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Mindfulness and meditation can help with speedy pain recovery even from serious injury- Representational imageCreative Commons

Mindfulness is a practice that is widely accepted as a way to help with mental stresses and it has effects on several systems in the human body. Mindfulness can also be an effective way to treat and recover from injuries, a new study has found.

This study involved athletes who were severely injured and researchers found that mindfulness could seriously impact their rehabilitation process. In a release, the team found that there are millions of sports related injuries which have burdensome psychological and physiological effects on athletes. Many of them are severe enough to be career-ending.

Twenty such athletes were chosen for this study, notes the release, all aged between 21 and 36. They had all suffered serious injuries and were out of action for over three months. Participants were divided into two groups and both groups were put through their regular physiotherapy sessions, but one group was also put through 90 minutes of additional mindfulness and meditation sessions along with their treatment. Meditation sessions where done once a week for eight weeks.

After eight weeks, researchers used a Cold Pressor Test (CPT) to find the athletes'pain tolerance levels. Perception of pain was also tested with a visual analogue scale, along with the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), and Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Results of the study demonstrated that the athletes who practised mindfulness showed an increase in pain tolerance. Also, there was a demonstrable change in mood for the group- they had a much better mood. The Stress and Anxiety scores showed a positive decrease for the severely injured athletes.

Researchers used a common meditation techniques, notes the release, it was based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This is the first time that the MBSR technique has been scientifically studied as an intervention method in the recovery of injured athletes.

This research was carried out to specifically investigate the role of MBSR and how it might work in increasing pain tolerance and reducing perception of pain as well as related anxiety and stress. Researchers also found that the procedure were actually able to increase positive mood with injured athletes.

The study did not replace physiotherapy with mindfulness meditation, rather added to the already existing medication and saw that it boosted treatment.

The paper, Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes has been published in Frontiers in Psychology.