Node Smith, ND

A recent study looked at how mindfulness can be beneficial for athletes who have sustained injuries as part of their rehab.1 It has been noted to help with pain tolerance as well as body awareness.

Millions of athletic injuries occur every year

Athletic injuries have both psychological and physiological effects, and the potential for injuries to be career ending affect the emotional psychological implications. The use of mindfulness has been considered and found to be an effective and beneficial aspect of treatment in many illnesses and diseases, to help individuals become more aware of how diseases is affecting them. Mindfulness helps lower stress and anxiety levels, both factors that can negatively influence healing.

The research study

The research study was conducted with 20 athletes – 14 males and 6 females. Ages were 21 – 36 years. Injuries were varied, but all considered severe, preventing sports activity for more than 3 months.

Two groups were followed. Both groups received normal physiotherapy, and the intervention group was given a mindfulness meditation in a 90-minute session, once a week for 8-weeks.

Pain tolerance

Pain tolerance was a principal outcome and was measured using Cold Pressor Test (CPT). Pain perception was also measured, using a Visual Analogue Scale. Mindful Attention Scale (MAAS), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) and Profile of Mood States (POMS) were also used.

The study found that mindfulness increased pain tolerance and increased mindful awareness for the injured athletes. There was also a positive change in mood. Stress and anxiety was seen to decrease as the sessions progressed.

Study used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

The study used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a very common meditation technique. This is the first study to use this treatment for this purpose.


  1.  Mohammed WA, Pappous A and Sharma D (2018) Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes. Front. Psychol. 9:722. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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