Can biofeedback enhance athletic performance?
In preparing athletes for peak performance it is natural to strive for the edge over the competition. In recent years, biofeedback has become increasingly popular for its proven success in peak performance training. In a recent study, NeXus 10 devices were used to test the efficacy of an 8 week period of biofeedback training with 18 athletes; each training in different disciplines.
This experimental group of 4 women and 14 men were compared with a control group of 21 athletes (4 women and 17 men). All athletes were between 16 and 34 years old and the aim was to test whether biofeedback training with the NeXus 10 could improve psychophysiological control over competitive anxiety and enhance athletic performance in the participants.
Athletes from both groups (control and experimental) were subjected to stress tests at the beginning of the study and once again at its conclusion. In between, the experimental group received training in biofeedback techniques.
The study calculated the percentage of athletes in the experimental group compared with those in the control group who were able to control respiration, skin conductance, heart rate, blood flow amplitude, heart rate variability, and heart respiration coherence. One year following completion of the initial study, the athletes from the experimental group were questionned to determine whether they continued to use these skills and if they could detect any continued enhancement in their athletic performance.
The authors demonstrated that a greater number of participants in the experimental group were able to successfully control their psychophysiological parameters, in comparison to their peers in the control group.
One year following completion of the training program, all participants from the experimental group indicated that they were still using their biofeedback-trained skills. Furthermore, these participants uniformly reported believing that these skills had enhanced their athletic performance and general well-being.
Nika Pusenjak, Anton Grad, Matej Tusak, Matevz Leskovsek, Romina Schwarzlin
"Can biofeedback training of psychophysiological responses enhance athletes' sport performance? A practitioner's perspective"
Phys Sportsmed 2015 Jul 22;43(3):287-99. Epub 2015 Jul 22.