Music as a medicine for athletes

Music is being used to boost athletic performance, since experts say it reduces fatigue and increases muscle power. Studies show that music can relax anxious athletes, strengthen them before an event, boost their performance, and help create a positive training environment that increases their kinetic skills. Studies conducted at Brunel University in Britain by Professor Costas Karagiorgis and colleagues have shown that music enhances a positive mood and reduces the feeling of fatigue. Music distracts the athlete from the sense of muscular effort and pain. One of the techniques the research team used was to produce audio cassettes with individualized music selections for athletes such as marathon runners. The music was often accompanied by verbal encouragement to boost morale. Individual selection The use of music is of interest in connection with the Olympic Games, as it might develop into a technique which, unlike doping, does not run counter to Olympic ideals. «Nobody anywhere in the world has looked into this issue,» cardiologist and composer Thanassis Dritsas told Kathimerini. Dritsas is a pioneer in the field of music in medicine. «For example,» he said, «the fast, loud dance music used to accompany exercise in gyms is completely wrong because it increases bodily stress. Unfortunately, trainers and gymnastic academies do not give specific guidelines for the use of music with exercise.» In his book «Music as a Medicine» (published by Info Health), Dritsas mentions a series of studies which show that music can be used, in combination with the right diet, as an energy supplement in the attempt to reduce the use of pharmaceutical substances by young people involved in sport. Similarly, music can assist by maintaining the level of stimulation. «I believe that musical harmony is very important in general,» Olympic medalist and weightlifter Kakhi Kakiashvili told Kathimerini. «Music is prohibited in World and European competitions. People try to be quiet so as to help the athletes during the events. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t use music in training. It helps us concentrate, lifts our morale at the right moment and relaxes us at the right moment. In sport it’s important for athletes to get tired, but also to relax and recover. The means of help include doctors, physiotherapists, baths and music. Athletes choose the music they like, which helps them concentrate or relax.» Asked whether he would like to hear music while competing, Kakiashvili said: «It’s a good idea, a proposal we could put to our federation. The athletes could give the organizers the music they want played during their attempt, as they do for synchronized swimming, skating and rhythmic gymnastics. So far that hasn’t been done in weightlifting.» In rhythmic gymnastics, music is compulsory. «Every movement must correspond to the sound and rhythm of the music,» says Ioanna Harana, trainer of the Greek national team. «We don’t just choose music that is pleasant, but music that suits our program. We have to choose different kinds of music that help us show the athletes’ movements to their best advantage and to achieve some kind of unity in the choreography.» The choice of the right music is vital for athletes, according to Dritsas. «You can’t use the same kind of music for everyone. The trainer has to work with an expert in the field to make a CD based on the athlete’s preferences, education and musical tastes.» «Every athlete needs their own personal stereo because they know their own rhythms, how soon to increase their effort, which music they like. Studies have shown that the tempo of the music should increase gradually in keeping with the athlete’s rhythm,» he added

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