Introduction: Mental imagery (MI) has been shown to influence flexibility when used with treatments such as stretching. Currently, little evidence supports the efficacy of MI as an independent tool to increase flexibility. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to test if a guided mental imagery protocol could positively influence subject physical measures, including myofascial length, muscle tone and range of motion measures.
Methods: Individuals with no history of lower limb injuries that would affect hamstring flexibility underwent initial measures, random assignment to a mental imagery or control group, and post-intervention measures. The imagery group followed a guided visualization of a hamstring stretch, and the control group remained still for the same amount of time. Independent T-Test, Dependent T-Test, and one-way ANOVA were used to analyze between-group differences, within-group differences, and group by time interaction, respectively.
Results: 30 individuals enrolled in the study. No significant differences between groups at baseline were found for baseline demographics and ROM measures. No significant group by time differences were found between the two groups for any of the recorded measures. A posthoc power analysis showed a small effect size on the ANOVA test for knee extension.
Discussion: Our evidence shows an acute MI-only protocol may not positively influence ROM measures. Future work should use familiarization periods, assess if imagery increases perceptions of flexibility, and utilize different musculature and stretches to see if visualization has a uniform influence globally.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Health Professions and Sciences
Kinesiology and Physical Therapy
Rodriguez, Juan P., "The Influence of Mental Imagery on Myofascial Restriction" (2019). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 609.