Music and Your Workout
How your workout playlist can give you an edge when you exercise.
Don't Rely on Music continued...
"From a psychological point of view it's all about conditioning -- you are conditioning yourself to run with music and expect it to be present, so when it is suddenly removed you can expect a poor performance," Priest says.
It's not that you always have to run in total silence. Just sometimes, so you get used to it before your race.
Karageorghis' advice: For every two workouts with music, do one workout without music.
If that doesn't work, you might try a technique called auditory imagery, in which you imagine your favorite songs playing in your head while working out. That way, you can "listen" to music without actually having to hear it, Karageorghis says. Sing to yourself, if you like.
Watch the Volume
Blasting your music isn't a good idea. Crank up the volume on a hard workout, and your hearing may suffer.
"High-intensity music coupled with high-intensity exercise" can cause temporary hearing loss, Karageorghis warns. During exercise, blood from the inner ear rushes toward the working muscles, making you more susceptible to hearing damage, he says.
In the short run, there are few consequences to listening to music too loudly, says Marshall Chasin, AuD, director of research at the Musicians' Clinics of Canada. If you blast music on your iPod during a workout, that may lead to slight pressure, ringing in your ears, and temporary hearing loss -- but in most cases, hearing will fully recover in about 16-18 hours, Chasin says.
But if you make it a habit in the long term, listening to very loud music on headphones can cause permanent damage, says Brian Fligor, ScD, director of diagnostic audiology at Boston Children's Hospital. Prolonged exposure to loud music destroys hair cells in the inner ear responsible for hearing, he says.
In some severe cases, people who blast their music for extended periods of time may develop chronic tinnitus -- permanent ringing in the ear. On top of interfering with hearing ability, tinnitus can cause depression and other mental health issues, Fligor says.
Because hearing loss is gradual and may take several years to appear, it's important to take proper precautions before it's too late. Fligor's advice: If you use headphones, follow the "80 for 90 rule." This means that it is safe to listen to music on a portable device, such as an iPod, at 80% of the maximum level for no more than 90 minutes a day. Any more than that and you risk overworking the ear, he says.
Moderation is a good strategy, Chasin says. "If it's your favorite song, by all means turn up your iPod," he says. "Just turn it down afterward to a reasonable level." And if you overwork your ears one day, keep things quiet for the next few days.
Let's say you cranked the volume too high during a workout on Friday. For the rest of the weekend, limit the volume to 50% or 60% of the maximum level, Chasin says. That won't undo any damage from blasting your music on Friday -- it just prevents super-loud music from becoming a habit.
Fligor also suggests using sound-isolating headphones that hush background noise. That might make it easier to dial down the volume, since you don't have to drown out other sounds.