Advertisement

Sports Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 313–329 | Cite as

The Placebo Effect in Sports Performance

A Brief Review
  • Christopher J. Beedie
  • Abigail J. Foad
Review Article

Abstract

The placebo effect, with its central role in clinical trials, is acknowledged as a factor in sports medicine, although until recently little has been known about the likely magnitude and extent of the effect in any specific research setting. Even less is known about the prevalence of the effect in competitive sport. The present paper reviews 12 intervention studies in sports performance. All examine placebo effects associated with the administration of an inert substance believed by subjects to be an ergogenic aid. Placebo effects of varying magnitudes are reported in studies addressing sports from weightlifting to endurance cycling. Findings suggest that psychological variables such as motivation, expectancy and conditioning, and the interaction of these variables with physiological variables, might be significant factors in driving both positive and negative outcomes. Programmatic research involving the triangulation of data, and investigation of contextual and personality factors in the mediation of placebo responses may help to advance knowledge in this area.

Keywords

Placebo Caffeine Experimental Trial Blood Lactate Placebo Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

References

  1. 1.
    Di Blasi Z. The placebo effect: the crack in the biomedical box. Psychologist 2003; 16 (Pt 2): 72–5Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ogden J. Health psychology. Berkshire (UK): Open University Press, 2004Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Taylor SE. Health psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ader R, Cohen N. Psychoneuroimmunology: conditioning and stress. Annu Rev Psychol 1993; 44: 53–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    dela Fuente-Fernández R, Phillips AG, Zamburlini M, et al. Dopamine release in human ventral striatum and expectation of reward. Behav Brain Res 2002; 136 (Pt 2): 359–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Yang EV, Bane CM, MacCallum RC, et al. Stress-related modulation of matrix metalloproteinase expression. J Neuroimmunol 2002; 133 (Pt 1-2): 144–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Clark VR, Hopkins WG, Hawley JA, et al. Placebo effect of carbohydrate feeding during a 40-km cycling time trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000; 32: 1642–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    McGuire WJ. The nature of attitudes and attitudes change. In: Lindzey G, Aronson E, editors. The handbook of social psychology, vol. III. Reading (MA): Addison-Wesley, 1969: 136–314Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Price DD, Finniss DG, Benedetti F. A comprehensive review of the placebo effect: recent advances and current thought. Annu Rev Psychol 2008 Jan 59 [online]. Available from URL: http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/action/showJournals [Accessed 2008 Feb 10]Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Evans D. Placebo: the belief effect. London: HarperCollins, 2003Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bonci L. Nutritional ergogenics: performance enhancers vs. the placebo effect indications and contraindications. Proceedings of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. 49th Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia; 1998 Jun 17–20, Baltimore (MA). Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1998: 270–2Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Yesalis CE, Bahrke MS. Anabolic-androgenic steroids: current issues. Sports Med 1995; 19: 326–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gutirrez-Sancho O, Moncada-Jimenez J, Robinson E, et al. The effects of creatine supplementation on biochemical, body composition, and performance outcomes in humans:a meta-analysis. Int J Appl Sports Sci 2006; 18 (Pt 2): 12–38Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shephard RJ. Vitamin E and athletic performance. J Sports Med 1983; 23: 461–70Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kerr IL. Mouth guards for the prevention of injuries in contact sports. Sports Med 1986 Nov-Dec; 3 (Pt 6): 415–27PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Brolinson PG. Precompetition manipulation: placebo or performance enhancer? Clin J Sport Med 2003 Mar; 13 (Pt 2): 69–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Liggett DR. Sports hypnosis. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 2000Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Aragon-Vargas LF. Effects of fasting on endurance exercise. Sports Med 1993; 16: 255–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hinton ER, Taylor S. Does placebo response mediate runner’s high? Percept Mot Skills 1986 June; 62 (Pt 3): 789–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Vogt W. Breaking the chain: drugs and cycling, the true story (trans. William Fotherington). London: Random House, 1999Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gallagher H. On swimming. London: Pelham, 1970: 33–8Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    World champions or soccer cheats? The Daily Telegraph, United Kingdom [online]. Available from URL: http://www.dailytelegraph.com/worldchampionsorsoccercheats.htm [Accessed 2004 Apr 1]
  23. 23.
    Murphy MM, White RA. In the zone: transcendent experience in sport. New York: Penguin, 1995: 34–102Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Beedie CJ. The placebo effect in competitive sport: qualitative data. J Sport Sci Med 2007; 6: 21–8Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Burke LM, Hawley JA, Schabort EJ, et al. Carbohydrate loading failed to improve 100-km cycling performance in a placebo-controlled trial. J Appl Physiol 2000; 88: 1284–90PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sonetti DA, Wetter TJ, Pegelow DF, et al. Effects of respiratory muscle training versus placebo on endurance exercise performance. Respir Physiol 2001; 127 (Pt 2-3): 185–99PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hornery DJ, Papalia S, Mujika I, et al. Physiological and performance benefits of halftime cooling. J Sci Med Sport 2005 Mar; 8 (Pt 1): 15–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    McMurray RG, Wilson JR, Kitchell BS. The effects of fructose and glucose on high intensity endurance performance. Res Q Exerc Sport 1983; 54: 156–62Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sellwood KL, Brukner P, Williams D, et al. Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med 2007; 41: 392–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Reeser JC, Smith DT, Fischer V, et al. Static magnetic fields neither prevent nor diminish symptoms and signs of delayed onset muscle soreness. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2005; 86 (Pt 3): 565–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Moseley Jr JB, Wray NP, Kuykendall D, et al. Arthroscopic treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial: results of a pilot study. Am J Sports Med 1996 Jan-Feb; 24 (Pt 1): 28–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Porcari JP, Otto J, Felker H, et al. The placebo effect on exercise performance [abstract]. J Cardiopulmon Rehabil Prev 2006 Jul/Aug; 26 (Pt 4): 269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ariel G, Saville W. Anabolic steroids: the physiological effects of placebos. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1972; 4: 124–6Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Beedie CJ, Stuart EM, Coleman DA, et al. Placebo effect of caffeine in cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006; 38: 2159–64PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Beedie CJ, Coleman DA, Foad AJ. Positive and negative placebo effects resulting from the deceptive administration of an ergogenic aid. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2007; 17: 259–69PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Foad AJ, Beedie CJ, Coleman DA. Pharmacological and psychological effects of caffeine ingestion in 40 km cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008; 40 (Pt 1): 158–65PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Foster C, Felker H, Porcari JP, et al. The placebo effect on exercise performance [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004 May; 36 Suppl. 5: S171Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kalasountas V, Reed J, Fitzpatrick J. The effect of placebo-induced changes in expectancies on maximal force productionin college students. J Appl Sport Psychol 2007; 19 (Pt 1): 116–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Maganaris CN, Collins D, Sharp M. Expectancy effects and strength training: do steroids make a difference? Sport Psychologist 2000; 14 (Pt 3): 272–8Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    McClung M, Collins D. “Because I know it will!”: placebo effects of an ergogenic aid on athletic performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol 2007 Jun; 29 (Pt 3): 382–94PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Benedetti F, Pollo A, Colloca L. Opioid-mediated placebo responses boost pain endurance and physical performance:is it doping in sport competitions? J Neurosci 2007 Oct; 27(Pt 44): 11934–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Pollo A, Carlino E, Benedetti F. The top-down influence of ergogenic placebos on muscle work and fatigue. Eur J Neurosci 2008; 28: 379–88PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Batterham AM, Hopkins WG. Making meaningful inferences about magnitudes. Int J Sport Physiol Perf 2006; 1: 50–7Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Desharnais R, Jobin J, Cote C, et al. Aerobic exercise and the placebo effect: a controlled study. Psychosom Med 1993; 55 (Pt 2): 149–54PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Marlatt GA, Rohsenow DJ. Cognitive processes in alcohol use: expectancy and the balanced placebo design. In: Mello N, editor. Advances in substance abuse (1). Greenwich (CT): JAI Press, 1980: 159–99Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Beedie CJ, Foad AJ, Coleman DA. Identification of placebo responsive participants in 40 km cycling performance. J Sport Sci Med 2008; 7 (Pt 1): 166–75 [online]. Available from URL: http://www.jssm.org/vol7/n1/24/v7n1-24text.php [Accessed 2008 Apr 2]Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Wilmert N, Porcari JP, Foster C, et al. The effects of oxygenated water on exercise physiology during incremental exercise and recovery. J Exerc Physiol 2002 Nov; 5 (Pt 4) [online]. Available from URL: http://faculty.css.edu/tboone2/asep/Porcari.pdf [Accessed 2007 Nov 8]
  48. 48.
    Porcari J, Foster C. Mind over body: ACE fitness matters 2006 May/June [online]. Available from URL:http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/PlaceboStudy2006.pdf[Accessed 2006 Dec 5]
  49. 49.
    Kirsch I, Weixel LJ. Double-blind versus deceptive administration of a placebo. Behav Neurosci 1988; 102 (Pt 22): 319–23PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Fiorillo CD, Tobler PN, Schultz W. Discrete coding of reward probability and uncertainty by dopamine neurons. Science 2003; 299: 1898–902PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

Personalised recommendations