Does Listening to Music Alter the Running Mechanics?

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    Università degli Studi di Sassari
Updated on 9 June 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


The purpose of this study is to determine whether in healthy subjects listening to music while running influences the ground pressure forces, the vertical loading and, overall, the running biomechanics.


The analysis of the effects that listening to music may exert during exercise has been the topic of a number of scientific articles. Overall, these studies documented how music influences performance and they generally observed positive effects. The majority of the investigations were carried out in the aerobic/endurance domain where music was found to enhance running performance and is also likely to accelerate heart rate recovery after strenuous exercise, albeit not all the authors agree on this point. It has been also reported that loud music not only enhances optimal exercising, but also interacts with music tempo to yield significant additional performance benefits.

Despite such interesting findings, the focus of these investigations was restricted to characterize the physiological responses that individuals exhibit when listening to music during physical activity, mainly running. Thus, the studies ended up with positive results, that is, increased performance, or failed in showing any effect.

Beside the above reported positive effects of music some potentially negative effects should be considered. First, regardless of whether running is included or not in the experimental condition, exposure to high levels of noise/sound even for short periods of time can be damaging for the auditory system, possibly resulting in hearing loss or impairment. This topic has been scrutinized by a number of studies, with a specific attention to adolescent populations who are exposed to high risk of hearing problems due to the massive usage of listening devices. Although this is a crucial issue, such source of hazard can be adequately controlled for by firmly sticking to the guidelines on the recommended exposure limits (REL), which is recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The REL has been set at 85 decibels (dB) for a maximum of 8 hours. Increasing the volume by rate of 3 dB increases the risk exponentially. For instance, a noise corresponding to an intensity of 88 dB should not exceed an exposure of 4 hours, then 91 dB 2 hours, 94 dB 1 hour, 97 dB 30 minutes, 100 dB 15 minutes, 103 dB 7.5 minutes, 106 dB 3.7 minutes and so on, up to 140 dB, which must not be provided at all.

Surprisingly, to date and to our knowledge, the influence that listening to music with portable devices and earphones may exert on the amount of vertical force upon impact loading during running has not been investigated yet.

Unlike the considerable number of previous works which were focused on the physiological and psychological responses to music during exercise, no references that attempted to address the biomechanical consequences of music listening on impact loading and jogging/running mechanics could be traced in the literature. Therefore, our main goal is to fill this gap in the existing literature.

Considering the universal widespread and popularity of running and that approximately 47 million Americans participated in running activities in the last decade, the findings generated by this research would be highly relevant to the broad field of sports medicine and exercise science.

Condition Healthy
Treatment Running while listening to a traffic audio track, Running with music at moderate volume, Running with music at moderate-to-high volume
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03506282
SponsorUniversità degli Studi di Sassari
Last Modified on9 June 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Healthy subjects
Age 18-35 years
Level of fitness: Moderate level (ACTIVE) according to the classification of the American College of Sports Medicine depicting "Moderate" as either of the following 3
or more days of vigorous activity of at least 20 minutes per day OR
or more days of moderate-intensity activity and/or walking of at least 30 minutes per day OR
or more days of any combination of walking, moderate-intensity or vigorous intensity activities achieving a minimum of at least 600 metabolic equivalents (METs) per week
able to run on a treadmill safely and without bilateral or unilateral support

Exclusion Criteria

Past or present diseases of the auditory and vestibular system (as assessed by otolaryngological and audiometric examinations)
Traumatology/orthopedic conditions that contraindicate treadmill training
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