Sports Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 319–329 | Cite as

Athletes and Pain Tolerance

  • Lorette J. Pen
  • Craig A. Fisher
Review Article

Summary

Athletes’ attitudes towards pain, and the cognitive strategies they use while experiencing pain, may be reflected in their pain tolerance levels and their performance and adherence to sport injury rehabilitation. Association and dissociation are 2 of the more popular cognitive strategies, and most research has found that these strategies increase pain tolerance and performance. It has not clearly been established how these results are transferred to athletes overcoming the pain associated with injury rehabilitation. The major limitation of most of these pain induction techniques is that they are inherently safe, and individuals know that the induced pain can be terminated at any time. Not only will the stressor be terminated, but the pain experienced will also decline because the pain is due to the stimulation. Thus, it is possible that pain tolerance and performance levels are higher in experimental settings than would normally be in real-life situations. However, exercise-induced muscle soreness is one pain induction technique which attempts to alleviate this limitation and therefore provide more realistic levels of pain to tolerate. The pain, stiffness, prolonged reduction in muscle strength, and decreased range-of-motion that appear 24 to 48 hours after strenuous eccentric exercise does not fully subside until 8 to 10 days after the initial bout of exercise. Study participants experience long-lasting, real-life pain. Thus, it is worthwhile for those involved in sport injury rehabilitation to be aware of the effectiveness of these cognitive strategies that may assist athletes to overcome the pain associated with exercise-induced muscle soreness, and how this relates to rehabilitation.

Keywords

Cognitive Strategy Muscle Soreness Pain Tolerance Athletic Trainer Noxious Stimulation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Kraus JF, Conroy C. Mortality and morbidity from injuries in sports and recreation. Annu Rev Public Health 1984; 5: 163–92PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pedersen P. The grief response and injury: a special challenge for athletes and athletic trainers. J Natl Athlet Train Assoc 1986; 21: 312–4Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fisher AC, Hoisington LL. Injured athletes’ attitudes and judgments toward rehabilitation adherence. J Natl Athlet Train Assoc 1993; 28: 48–54Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Domm MA. Rehabilitation adherence [unpublished master’s thesis]. Ithaca: Ithaca College, 1985Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gauron EF, Bowers WA. Pain control techniques in college-age athletes. Psychol Rep 1986; 59: 1163–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fisher AC, Domm MA, Wuest DA. Adherence to sports injury rehabilitation programs. Physician Sportmed 1988 July; 52: 47–51Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bresler D. Learning to control pain [cassette]. New York: Ziff-Davis, 1988Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Melzack R, Dennis SG. Neurophysiological foundations of pain. In: Sternbach RA, editor. The psychology of pain. New York: Raven Press, 1978: 143–54Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bayer TL, Baer PE, Early C. Situational and psychophysiological factors in psychologically induced pain. Pain 1991; 44: 45–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hotchkiss DD. Cognitive strategies for athletic pain tolerance [unpublished master’s thesis]. Ithaca: Ithaca College, 1981Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Duda JL, Smart AE, Tappe MK. Predictors of adherence in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries: an application of personal investment theory. J Sport Exerc Psychol 1989; 11: 367–81Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fisher AC. Adherence to sports injury rehabilitation programmes. Sports Med 1990; 9: 151–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lynch GP. Athletic injuries and the practicing sport psychologist: practical guidelines for assisting athletes. Sport Psychol 19881; 2: 161–7Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Smith AM, Scott SG, Wiese DM. The psychological effects of sports injuries: coping. Sports Med 1990; 9: 352–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Weise DM, Weiss MR. Psychological rehabilitation and physical injury: implications for the sportsmedicine team. Sport Psychol 1987; 1: 318–30Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Weiss MR, Troxel RK. Psychology of the injured athlete. J Natl Athlet Train Assoc 1986; 21: 104–10Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fernandez E. Artifact in pain ratings, its implications for test-retest reliability, and correction by a new scaling procedure. J Psychopath Behav Assess 1989; 12: 1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chapman CR. Pain and perception: comparison of sensory decision theory and evoked potential methods. In: Bonica JJ, editor. Pain. New York: Raven Press, 1980: 111–39Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Friedman H, Thompson RB, Rosen E. Perceived threat as a major factor in tolerance for experimentally induced cold-water pain. J Abnorm Psychol 1985; 94: 624–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pennebaker JA, Lightner JM. Competition of internal and external information in an exercise setting. J Persp Soc Psychol 1980; 9: 165–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Thorn BE, Williams GA. Goal specification alters perceived pain intensity and tolerance latency. Cognit Ther Res 1989; 13: 171–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Melzack R. The puzzle of pain. New York: Basic Books, 1973Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Brena S. Pain and religion: a psychophysiological study. Springfield: Thomas, 1972Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bogduk N. The anatomy and physiology of nociception. Aust Assoc Musculoskel Med Bull 1991 March: 14–29, 32–6Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Melzack, R. Psychologic aspects of pain. In: Bonica JJ, editor. Pain. New York: Raven Press, 1980: 1–26Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Williams SL, Kinney PJ. Performance and nonperformance strategies for coping with acute pain: the role of perceived self-efficacy, expected outcomes, and attention. Cognit Ther Res 1991; 15: 1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ryan ED. Perceptual characteristics of vigorous people. In: Fisher AC, editor. Psychology of sport. Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1976: 432–6Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Beecher HK. Relationship of significance of wound to pain experienced. JAMA 1956; 161: 609–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Crossman J, Jamieson J. Differences in perceptions of seriousness and disrupting effects of athletic injury as viewed by athletes and their trainer. Percept Mot Skills 1985; 61: 1131–4PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Weinberg RS, Smith J, Jackson A, et al. Effects of association, dissociation and positive self-talk strategies on endurance performance. Can J Appl Sport Sci 1984; 9: 25–32PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Spink KS. Facilitating endurance performance: the effects of cognitive strategies and analgesic suggestions. Sport Psychol 1988; 2: 97–104Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bandura A. Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychol Rev 1977; 84: 191–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Bandura A. Social foundations of thought and action: a social-cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1986Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Dolce JJ, Doleys DM, Raczynski JM, et al. The role of self-efficacy expectancies in the prediction of pain tolerance. Pain 1986; 27: 261–72PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Weinberg RS, Gould D, Yukelson D, et al. Effect of pre-existing and manipulated self-efficacy on a competitive muscular endurance task. J Sport Psychol 1981; 3: 345–54Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Weinberg RS, Jackson A, Gould D. Expectations and performance: an empirical test of Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. J Sport Psychol 1979; 1: 320–31Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Taylor SE. Positive illusions: creative self-deception and the healthy mind. New York: Basic Books, 1989Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rotter JB. Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychol Med Monogr Suppl 1966; 80: 1 (609)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    McCall KD, Malott JM. Distraction and coping with pain. Psychol Bull 1984; 95: 516–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Egbert LD, Battit GE, Welch CE, et al. Reduction of postoperative pain by encouragement and instruction of patients. N Eng J Med 1964; 270: 825–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Kanfer FH, Goldfoot DA. Self-control and tolerance of noxious stimulation. Psychol Rep 1966; 18: 79–85PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Kanfer FH, Seidner ML. Self-control: factors enhancing tolerance of noxious stimulation. J Pers Soc Psychol 1973; 25: 381–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Stevenson MK, Kanfer FH, Higgins JM. Effects of goal specificity and time cues on pain tolerance. Cognit Ther Res 1984; 8: 415–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Morgan WP. The mind of the marathoner. Psychology Today 1978 Apr: 38–40, 43, 45–46, 49Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Morgan WP, Pollock ML. Psychologic characterization of the elite distance runner. Ann NY Acad Sci 1977; 301: 382–403PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Pennebaker JA, Skelton J. Psychological parameters of physical symptoms. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 1978; 4: 524–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Sachs MH, Sachs ML. Psychology of running. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1981Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Knuckle C. Phasic pain induced by cold. J Appl Psychol 1949; 1: 468–74Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Armstrong RB. Mechanisms of exercise-induced delayed onset muscular soreness: a brief review. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1984; 16: 529–38PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Clarkson PM, Nosaka K, Braun B. Muscle function after exercise-induced muscle damage and rapid adaptation. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1992; 24: 512–20PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Smith LL. Acute inflammation: the underlying mechanism in delayed onset muscle soreness? Med Sci Sports Exerc 1991; 23: 542–51PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Pen LJ, Fisher AC, Sforzo GA, et al. Cognitive strategies and pain tolerance in athletes with muscle soreness. In pressGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Fisher AC, Mullins SA, Frye PA. Athletic trainers’ attitudes and judgments of injured athletes’ rehabilitation adherence. J Athletic Training 1992; 28: 43–7Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ryan ED, Kovacic CR. Pain tolerance and athletic participation. Percept Mot Skills 1966; 22: 383–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Scott V, Gijsbers K. Pain perception in competitive swimmers. BMJ 1981; 283: 91–3PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Anshel MH. Sportpsychology: from theory to practice. Scottsdale, AR: Gorsuch Scarisbrick, 1990Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorette J. Pen
    • 1
  • Craig A. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Nursing and Health SciencesGriffith University, Gold Coast University CollegeSouthportAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Exercise and Sports SciencesIthaca CollegeIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations