“Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.” -Lou Holtz
It’s cranking out that last rep when there is nothing left. Rounding the final home stretch of a 5k. The last of 20×100 sprints off the block.
Anyone who’s exercised has experienced that surge of energy that pushes you past what you thought was possible.
In the tiring moment when you could collapse, just as you are about quit…you find that notch and crank it UP. Physiologists believe that our brain sends out these “quitting signals” as a protective mechanism before every fiber, tissue and muscle in our body has been exhausted. We reach this “limit”, when perhaps we may still have a physical reserve available to us…if we can find a way to tap it.
Research data (and anyone who has first-hand experience competing in a sport) has already made it obvious – most performance is enhanced in a competition setting. In addition, the performance improvements of a placebo have been made evident.
So what about the effects of a placebo when you are already at your max, such as during a competition?
At a time when you are already tapping into your last reserve of physical capacity, is there still more physiological wiggle room?
New research suggests that a placebo improved performance by both reducing perception of effort and increasing potential motivation – both cognitive and noncognitive processes appear to have influenced placebo response. Runners thought they were receiving a performance enhancing injection, when it was actually salt water! Their performance improved from placebo intervention more so than in response to the control…at a time when these runners were pushing the greatest of the limits [checkout this interview Dr. John had with the main investigator of the study Dr. Ross].
If we can experience these benefits for changes outside of ourself (i.e. injections, pills, treatments), we can induce the same change with out a pill or change! It’s already been concluded that there remains a physical reserve in us and the placebo (aka strong belief) proves extraordinarily powerful…and serves as that extra edge.
Engage in that and become the placebo.
Researchers have found “that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.”
As Lou Holtz says:
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing.” (Showing up each time and putting forth an honest effort…which we learned is more than we think is possible)
“Motivation determines what you do.” (*cough cough* some Weekly Monday Motivation…let this email fire you up!)
“Attitude determines how well you do it.” (BELIEVE you can do it…and have a reason why you can!)
You don’t need something outside yourself – all it takes is a belief in the possibilities with an equally strong commitment to do the work in order to create the conditions for change.
Be the placebo and create the extraordinary experience you want – you’re the best performance enhancing drug!
What are you going to believe in this week? Comment or e-mail us!
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Written by Amanda Presgraves. Amanda is a senior Kinesiology major, Division I student-athlete and entrepreneur at James Madison University. As an advocate of health and personal growth, she’s on a constant pursuit to optimize life and inspire others through her commitment to healthy living. If you can’t find Amanda bouncing between the classroom, pool, kitchen, or volunteering, you can find her online as she continues to lead and motivate others towards a happier and improved life at COR through her article contributions, newsletters and community motivation. @amandapgraves, firstname.lastname@example.org, linkedin.