What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback or biological feedback is the monitoring of the body’s physiological signs. Those signs are detected by sensors placed all over the body, amplified, and processed on a computer software that displays them back (feed-back) to the person. Now, the individual can develop self-awareness and learn to control their own physiology.

How does it work?

Sensors are attached to the client’s body. For example, the sensor attached to the scalp measures the communication between neurons (brain waves). The sensors attached to the surface of muscles measure the muscle action potential (current) that tells the muscle to contract. The sensor attached to the wrists (EKG) or the tip of your finger (photoplethysmography) measures heart rate and heart rate variability. The belt attached to your chest or abdomen is a respirator, and it measures respiration rate and pattern. We can also use a thermometer attached to the side of the pinky finger, which measures peripheral temperature, and a sensor in the palmar that measures the sweat of the hands.

During the stress of competition, you use a specific set of physiological reactions to the challenges you face. And it is supposed to happen, but the pattern of an overreaction (above what is needed for the demands in the sport) will cause a decrease in performance.

For example,

Excessive muscle tension (sEMG) can affect the coordination of movements and reaction time

High respiration rate (RR) and/or inappropriate breathing can cause fatigue, choking, failure to recover, a busy brain (paralysis by analysis), and changes in the attentional state.

Increased heart rate (HR) prior to the performance can cause the athlete to tire fast and become breathless.

In sport Biofeedback is used to

  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Reduce ruminative and anxious thinking
  • Train cognitive quieting and emotion regulation
  • Reduce reaction time
Fix technical flaws in the execution of sport movements and improving motor skills by alleviating misplaced effort
A Biomarker of body’s responses to different workouts and avoid dysfunctional overtraining

What IS Biofeedback, What is NOT Biofeedback

IS

  • Biofeedback is training, which means that it requires repetition and lots of practice to master the skills.
  • Biofeedback training requires a lot of effort from the client and home practices with smaller devices to complement the in-person practices.
  • Biofeedback training is a tool that complements psychological skills training (mental training).

NOT

  • Biofeedback is NOT something that you come to our office, sit in the chair, and receive “a thing” that will change your brain waves, relaxes the body, play a video game, and as magic; it will enhance performance.
  • Biofeedback alone does NOT enhance athletic performance. It increases self-awareness and allows you to train new responses.
Biofeedback and Sport Performance

Biofeedback applied to enhance athletic performance follow different protocols than those used to improve dysfunction in the general population. Make sure the professional helping you is trained in sport performance.

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