Washington: A new research has shed light on the power of mental visualization in maintaining real-life muscle.
Researchers at the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) at Ohio University have found that the mind is critical in maintaining muscle strength following a prolonged period of immobilization and that mental imagery may be key in reducing the associated muscle loss.
Brian C. Clark and colleagues set out to test how the brain's cortex plays into strength development. They designed an experiment to measure changes in wrist flexor strength in three groups of healthy adults. Twenty-nine subjects wore a rigid cast that extended from just below the elbow past the fingers, effectively immobilizing the hand and wrist, for four weeks. Fifteen subjects who did not wear casts served as the control group.
The research team wrote that these findings suggest neurological mechanisms, most likely at the cortical level, contribute significantly to disuse-induced weakness, and that regular activation of the cortical regions via imagery attenuates weakness and VA by maintaining normal levels of inhibition. Thus their findings that imagery attenuated the loss of muscle strength provide proof-of-concept for it as a therapeutic intervention for muscle weakness and voluntary neural activation.
The study is published in the Journal of Neurophysiology.