Athletes are known to perform even in great pain. A new study says that athletes can perceive pain differently but they do not differ from normal people in the minimum amount of pain felt or the pain threshold.
"Our analysis reveals that pain perception differs in athletes compared to normally active controls. Studies in athletes offer the opportunity for an evaluation of the physical and psychological effects of regular activity on pain perception, which might foster the development of effective types of exercise for relief in pain patients," said Dr. Jonas Tesarz, lead author of the study.
The researchers at the University of Heidelberg conducted a meta-analysis of the research that has been done in the field of pain perception by athletes around the world. They studied some 15 research studies that involved experimentation on athletes by inducing pain.
The researchers found that athletes could endure more pain than normal active people. This trend remained true across all sports and both genders.
The magnitude of pain endured by players of different sports varied significantly. Players that played games had higher tolerance for pain than endurance athletes.
Researchers say that regular exercise might be a reason for higher pain tolerance. They also feel that “pain patients” might benefit from regular exercising.
Regular activity might make people with chronic better at pain management.
A study involving pain perception and ballet dancers, says that ballet dancers in the national companies of America are more prone to injuries but rarely seek medical help. They can endure more levels of pain.
Another study focused on pain tolerance among athletes before and after a completion. They found that “competition dramatically reduced pain report on the cold-pressor test in all athletes”.
"Further research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between physical activity and modifications in pain perception, and to identify the involved psychological factors and neurobiological processes. However, the observation that pain perception is modifiable by physical activity provides promise for the use of non-invasive methods with few side effects for patients with chronic pain conditions," said Dr. Tesarz.