Dr. Raj, DPT explains the science behind meditation and athletic performance
Los Angeles superstar Lebron James credits a key part of his overall success and sustained longevity to the work he puts in on his mental fitness and health. A big part of that – which he’s mentioned multiple times is the use of meditation.
For example, he specifically referenced how meditation helped him get through the 2020 nba bubble and some of the difficulties that came along with that especially being away from his friends and family for an extended period of time.
He’s also used meditation multiple times while on the bench during nba games. Most recently on February 17th late in the game versus the Utah jazz in a close game with about a minute left. The question become what benefits does meditation bring to Lebron and athletic performance?
Generally meditation helps reduce distractions and help center you down to the current moment.
Physiologically it takes your nervous system from a sympathetic state aka the sympathetic nervous system which is your fight or flight mode and shifts it downwards into your parasympathetic nervous system – your psns – aka your rest and digest mode.
Further, from a neuroanatomy standpoint it helps inhibit or reduce activation of your amygdala and limbic system which is what triggers fear and emotional responses and helps activate your prefrontal cortex – your pfc – which is your executive decision making center
Both of these combine to do five critical things:
- improve focus
- improve mood and mood regulation
- improve attention
- reduce anxiety
- reduce stress
You combine those five elements and you have a calm composed athlete who’s not worrying or focused about the external distractions or stress level or pressures of the game and is reading the game really well and making excellent decisions
That pretty much sums up Lebron’s game in a nutshell and meditation can help him get back intothat same mentality and mindset when he really needs it.
After this season all laker fans might take a lead from Lebron and use some meditation and mindfulness techniques as well.
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Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT, (@3cbperformance) is a physiotherapist, movement expert, strength and conditioning/fitness coach, sports scientist and mindfulness coach. He runs the LA and online based physiotherapy and athletic performance clinic 3CB Performance and you can subscribe to his Youtube channel (which posts a variety of sports injury, performance, and fitness related content).