Research: DRIEDIGER and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 139


DRIEDIGER and co-workers, School of Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, have analyzed imagery used by athletes.


The aim of this study was to expand our knowledge and increase our understanding of imagery use by athletes in sport-injury rehabilitation using a qualitative approach.


10 injured athletes who were receiving physiotherapy were interviewed.


The athletes provided extensive information about their use of imagery during injury rehabilitation and it was clear that they believed imagery served cognitive, motivational and healing purposes in effectively rehabilitating an injury. Cognitive imagery was used to learn and properly perform the rehabilitation exercises. They employed motivational imagery for goal setting and to enhance mental toughness, help maintain concentration and foster a positive attitude. Imagery was used to manage pain. The methods they employed for controlling pain included using imagery to practise dealing with expected pain, using imagery as a distraction, imagining the pain dispersing, and using imagery to block the pain. They employed both visual and kinaesthetic imagery and their images tended to be positive and accurate.


The practice of imagery alongside physical rehabilitation should enhance the rehabilitation experience and, therefore, facilitate the recovery rates of injured athletes. It is recommended that those responsible for the treatment of injured athletes (e.g. medical doctors, physiotherapists) should understand the benefits of imagery in athletic injury rehabilitation, since it is these practitioners who are in the best position to encourage injured athletes to use imagery.


Driediger M, Hall C, Callow N. Imagery use by injured athletes: a qualitative analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences 24 (3): 261-271, Mar 2006.

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