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Believing is achieving for advocates of the placebo effect, but does it have any credible role to play in performance, or is it nothing more than a trick of the mind

The chances are you’ve heard of the placebo effect; the chances are you’ve also heard it described in a dismissive way. Even the Oxford English Dictionary defines a placebo as ‘a substance that has no therapeutic effect’, so it’s little wonder it has become known as fake medicine: a worthless trick of the mind.

But the placebo effect - a desirable outcome resulting from an expected or learned response to a treatment - has been shown time and again to be very real indeed. Credible scientific studies have shown placebos can have powerful effects on strength, endurance and pain tolerance, and tests have highlighted performance improvements for weightlifters, sprinters, endurance runners and cyclists.

Chris Beddie is pro placebo
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