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Placebo Effect: Influence on Repeated Intermittent Sprint Performance on Consecutive Days

Tolusso, Danilo V.1; Laurent, C. Matthew1; Fullenkamp, Adam M.1; Tobar, David A.2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 7 - p 1915–1924
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000844
Original Research

Abstract: Tolusso, DV, Laurent, CM, Fullenkamp, AM, and Tobar, DA. Placebo effect: influence on repeated intermittent sprint performance on consecutive days. J Strength Cond Res 29(7): 1915–1924, 2015—Despite the available literature addressing the placebo effect's role in mediating human performance, there is a paucity of research addressing the possibility of a placebo effect both within and between bouts of repeated sprint performance on consecutive days. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the administration of a placebo influences recovery during sessions of intermittent sprinting. Ten subjects performed 4 repeated sprint tests under 2 different conditions; 2 while being administered a control beverage separated by 24 hours of recovery and the other 2 with a placebo beverage separated by 24 hours of recovery. Before each sprint test, subjects provided perceived recovery status (PRS). Ratings of perceived exertion were recorded within 5 seconds after each sprint. After each repeated sprint protocol, subjects were asked to provide a rating of perceived exertion (RPE), rate their pain, and provided a blood lactate sample. Power was recorded throughout each session from a nonmotorized treadmill to analyze changes in sprinting performance. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to determine significant differences in peak and mean power, PRS, RPE, pain, and blood lactate. The placebo trial produced significantly higher peak (p < 0.001) and mean power (p = 0.002) vs. the control in later sprints absent of any other significant difference in metabolic or perceptual strain (p > 0.05). In conclusion, it seems that the administration of a placebo can attenuate the decline in performance as fatigue increases during repeated sprinting bouts.

1Exercise Science Program, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; and

2Sport Management Program, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio

Address correspondence to Danilo V. Tolusso,

Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.