We all have that song. You know the one. The one you love to sing at the top of your lungs in the shower. It’s on your iPod’s “Top 25 Most Played” list, or it’s on your favorite mix tape if you’re living in the 80′s. You sink sheepishly lower into your seat when you notice another driver watching you belting it out and banging the air drums. When you’re in the safety and privacy of your own home you bust out a few moves like Napoleon Dynamite with fervor and conviction. It puts you in a good mood. You have more energy. It brings you back after a bad day. Music has the ability to do so many things. Everyone knows how to shake it like a Polaroid picture and when we hear Outkast’s “Hey Ya” it’s hard to resist the pantomime.
The right piece of music will certainly motivate, but it can be a useful tool in other ways in physical therapy. Singing while performing exercises can help breathing and endurance while recovering from a heart transplant. Parkinson’s Disease causes an inability to initiate movement and using musical cues including a metronome and songs has helped me keep these clients from slowing down and keep them moving. During vestibular rehab I have clapped out rhythms according to a desired frequency of head movement for exercises to improve dizziness and balance disorders. Research has found that 20 minutes a day of listening to relaxing music (tempo of 60-80 beats per minute) can decrease perceived pain levels in those who have chronic pain related to osteoarthritis. I tend to believe when your therapist sings “Hurts So Good,” it makes stretching more bearable after a total knee replacement. Music can be a helpful adjunct to creating a healing environment and there is an entire profession (music therapy) devoted to incorporating the therapeutic benefits of music into treatment programs. I haven’t worked with a music therapist, but if you are one or have worked with one and want to share your experience, leave a comment at the bottom.
Music has its place and purpose, even in physical therapy, and sometimes in unexpected ways. Although music can be used to do more than motivate, I do get it. Quad sets just aren’t that much fun on their own. Which is why you should stick a few earbuds in and jam to the tunes that get you motivated, inspired, and ready to work.
My song: Mysterious Ways U2
Top 10 Therapy Playlist
1. Back in Black ACDC
2. Eye of the Tiger Survivor
3. The Distance Cake
4. Stronger Kanye West
5. Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin
6. Can’t Stop Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. Cold As Ice Foreigner
8. Where Are We Runnin’ Lenny Kravitz
9. Evenflow Pearl Jam
10. Hurts So Good John Cougar Mellencamp
What music motivates you to move? What’s your song? Leave a comment below!
References and Links
Pacchetti et al. “Active Music Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: An Integrative Method for Motor and Emotional Rehabilitation” Psychosomatic Medicine 62:386-393 (2000).
Ruth McCaffrey, & Edward Freeman. (2003). Effect of music on chronic osteoarthritis pain in older people. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 44(5), 517-524,445.