What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness could include simple techniques including:

  • Body scan which includes gradually thinking and taking your attention through the entire body from hands to feet and noticing any sensations o feelings while you're aware of your breath and relaxation.

  • Sitting meditation which can focus on your breath rising and falling as well as being aware of thoughts that go through your mind in a nonjudgmental way.

  • Hatha yoga practice also includes breathing with simple stretching and postural exercises to help strengthen and relax the body.

Caroline McManus PT, MS PT, MA has several CDs available for mindfulness techniques for patients.  She suggests that before every physical therapy session that the patient should do a simple breathing exercise and pay attention to how your body feels before beginning your therapy session. It should be without struggle or judgment and you should observe your experience with self kindness. It's important to be able to calmly noticed sensations in your body and separate your physical reaction from them. It's important to notice each breath as a new breath and each moment as a new moment.

A study published in the Journal of American medical Association look at the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction, (MBSR) versus cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or usual care. They noted that the patients who received MSBR training or CBT experience improvement in their back pain and they're functional limitations. They suggest that MBSR is an effective option for treating patients with chronic back pain and better than pain medications.

When anyone is in pain it causes their breathing to change. Most patients are upper chest breathers. When a person is in pain thei sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. This exacerbates upper chest breathing and an up regulated nervous system.  this case, until we can get that nervous system to calm down a bit, most of the treatment that we provide won't be sustainable for long-term management. In today's world, there's so much stress that ou sympathetic nervous system's are firing all the time and this does not allow us to heal at a deeper level. f we can just learn to breathe, slow down and focus on what we're doing, we will have a much better success wit our therapy treatments.

There is nothing actually "new age" about mindfulness training. We now know that the research suggests mindfulness training not only improves common relaxation, but could actually put improve cognition, xecutive function and decision-making as well.

Last year the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study indicating that mindfulness meditation can offer pain relief. There is also some research that shows that mindfulness techniques can help alleviate pain as well as how people perceive it.

We would like to you to incorporate some mindfulness techniques i your daily life as an alternative to using medication. We are aware that the mind is not separate from the body and hope that you can use my mindfulness just as a tool to enhance our ability to improve your energy move and pace yourself as you're going to rehab in a healthy way.

1. AMRA definition of mindfulness. American mindfulness research association. http://goamra.org/about/access November 21, 2016.
2. Jacob JA. As opioid prescribing guidelines titan, mindfulness medication holds promise for pain relief. JAMA. 2016. E1-E3. Published online May 20, 2016
3. Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, et al. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction versus cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care on back pain and functional limitations and adults with chronic low back. JAMA 2016; 315 (12); 1240-1249.