Jymmin: How we feel less pain with a new fitness method
Health experts say over 20 million people in Germany suffer from chronic pain. In many cases, the symptoms cannot be controlled with medication alone. A newly developed fitness method that combines sport and music could possibly help some.
Millions of Germans suffer from chronic pain
Researchers recently reported a family of six from Italy that never notices pain due to a rare gene mutation. Some Germans may envy them because chronic pain has long become a widespread disease in Germany. "About 23 million Germans (28%) report chronic pain, 95% of them chronic pain that is not caused by tumor diseases," wrote the German Pain Society in a statement last year. Scientists are now reporting on a newly developed fitness method that raises hope for pain sufferers: the jymmin, in which music can be produced with classic fitness equipment during sports training.
Mix of sport and musical improvisation
It usually arises acute from an illness, injury or heavy physical exertion: pain is uncomfortable. On the one hand, it is vital for survival as a warning signal.
On the other hand, it can also slow success in rehabilitation clinics or, in chronic form, become an independent disease. How strongly we feel it also depends on our individual pain threshold.
Whether tablets or heat therapy, there are different ways to meet him.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig have now discovered that a fitness method they have developed also influences our perception of pain:
Jymmin, a mix of sport (gym) and free musical improvisation (jammin), makes us less sensitive to pain.
New fitness method shifts the pain threshold up
As the institute explains in a communication, the Jymmin fitness devices are modified so that the different movements of the abdominal muscle trainer, pull rod or stepper produce a large variation in tones.
A composition software developed at the MPI CBS and an associated sensor system process them in such a way that an accompanying music is created for each athlete and unit at the same time.
The athletes thus become composers, the devices their instruments.
"We found that Jymmin raised the pain threshold. After just ten minutes of training on our Jymmin devices, the study participants were able to endure more pain in an average of ten percent, some even up to 50 percent, in a pain test, ”explains Thomas Fritz, head of the Music Evoked Brain Plasticity research group at the MPI CBS.
Increased release of pain-relieving endorphins
The neuroscientists already knew from previous studies that physical activity generally increases the pain threshold. "However, this effect was much stronger with the jymmin than with traditional weight training," explains Fritz.
Accordingly, the participants were able to hold their forearms in a degree of cold ice water for five seconds longer than after a training session on conventional sports equipment.
The scientists see the reason for this primarily in an increased release of endorphins during the jymmin. These hormones act as a kind of body's pain reliever.
The higher their level, the more tolerant we are to pain. The combination of physical exertion and making music seems to be particularly effective in stimulating our endorphin system.
Jymmin can also reduce anxiety
The interesting thing here: how strongly the pain sensation can be manipulated by this method seems to depend above all on the individual pain sensation.
The scientists divided the 22 study participants into pain classes using descriptions such as "When I want to hit a nail on the wall, I hit my finger with a hammer" and other painful scenes within a standardized questionnaire.
And it turned out that the greatest effect of this training method was experienced by the participants, who already had a less pronounced sensation of pain. The researchers suspect that these participants generally release endorphins more effectively than those who are more sensitive to pain.
"These effects result in numerous possible uses for the jymmin," said Fritz. For one, for people who suffer from acute or chronic pain.
Especially in rehabilitation clinics, the devices could provide valuable services by reducing patient pain and enabling more effective therapy training. "They simply reach their pain threshold later in training."
A recent study in chronic pain patients at the MPI CBS already indicated that jymmin can also reduce anxiety and thus counteract one of the main causes of chronic pain.
Personal mood and motivation increases
On the other hand there are the high-performance athletes who want to achieve particularly high physical performance and literally go to their pain limits. And beyond.
"Initial examinations with competitive swimmers at an Olympic training center in South Korea showed that the athletes who warmed up with our Jymmin equipment immediately before the competition swam faster than those with conventional warm-up methods."
In fact, in a pilot test, five of the six athletes swam a few tenths of a second faster than in previous runs.
Earlier studies at the MPI CBS had already discovered that jymmin generally has numerous positive effects on our body and our well-being.
They had shown that this not only reduces the workload in fitness training, but also increases personal mood and motivation.
They even found the music itself to be more beautiful during sports and were enthusiastic about musical styles that would otherwise lie outside of their personal musical repertoire. (ad)