Have you ever felt exhausted and agitated before a race, while training or while undergoing a (sports) trial? If the answer is yes, we're going to discuss one of the possible solutions: autogenic training, in this article.
Autogenic training is a technique developed at the beginning of the last century by J.H. Shultz, and which consists of self-relaxation through concentration, which by auto-suggestion leads to a hypnotic state and causes a reduction in the state of consciousness with optimal muscular decontraction.
Fields of application
This concentration technique is used primarily in the sports field both during the preparation phase and during a race, to restore the athlete's mental ability and concentration/motivation, and can, at certain times, remove states of exhaustion and psychic over-excitation as quickly as possible.
Autogenic training requires continuous practice of one or more exercises to be carried out during the day.
We can distinguish between a lower and a higher level, the first of which is strongly applicable to the sport field, the second of which is not.
The lower level
There are six lower level exercises that should be run in sequence:
Exercise of heaviness "the right arm is very heavy".
The right arm is used as a reference, as the right hand is well represented in the pre-frontal convolutions (including the motor area) and hence the resulting radiations affect other areas of the cortex as well. But why the heaviness? This aspect refers to a reduction in muscle tone due to relaxation (a phenomenon that has also been demonstrated using electromyographic recordings).
Exercising heat "the right arm is very hot".
With a decrease in muscle tone, a reduction in vascular tone occurs, resulting in dilation of blood vessels and a subsequent increase in skin temperature. Simultaneously, there is a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, further promoting relaxation and recovery.
Exercising the heart "the heart beats very gently and with force".
This exercise allows a further slowing down of the heart beat leading to a situation that can be termed sedative or trophoblastic.
Breathing exercises "breathing should be calm and sunny".
Prolonging exhalations leads to a strong relaxation, particularly in the limbs.
Exercising the solar plexus "the solar plexus radiates heat".
With an increased blood flow to the organs in the abdominal area a psycho-vegetative relaxation is induced, with simultaneous regulation of the gastric juices, leading to increased bowel movement and a smoother digestion, as well as decongestion of the blood inside the abdominal cavity.
Exercising the head "the forehead is pleasantly cool".
All of these exercises have the function of allowing relaxation of the muscular tissue and attenuation of the excitability of the nerve structures connected to it, leading to a general improvement and an acceleration of psychological re-stabilising.
To pass onto the next exercise, the objective of the previous one has to be achieved, while at the end of the session, it's best to return to a state of vigilance via formulas that are virtually the reverse of the six exercises presented, as well as performing a few small isometric contractions.
- if properly assimilated and executed, it reduces or eliminates physical fatigue and suppresses emotional tension,
- it is very useful and effective for those with anxiety-related disorder, especially when there is a long waiting time before a race,
- if assimilated incorrectly, it is totally useless,
- distension and relaxation could be detrimental to performance by slowing down and/or preventing the activation of primer muscles,
- is not effective for all athletes,