Prof. Ruth Defrin from Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine said that in their study, triathletes rated pain lower in intensity, tolerated it longer, and inhibited it better than individuals in a control group.
Nineteen triathletes and 17 non-athletes participated in the TAU researchers' study. All the participants were put through a battery of psychophysical pain tests, involving the application of a heating device to one arm and the submersion of the other arm in a cold-water bath. They also filled out questionnaires about their attitudes toward pain.
In the tests, the triathletes identified pain just as well as non-athletes, but they perceived it as less intense and were able to withstand it longer. The researchers explained that the triathletes reported fearing and worrying less about pain, which could help explain their higher tolerance.
They also showed a better ability to inhibit pain than non-athletes, as measured by conditioned pain modulation- the degree to which the body eases one pain in response to another.
Another explanation could be that they have taught their bodies to respond powerfully to painful stimuli through their intense training.
The researchers said that their study- along with existing literature- suggests that psychology and physiology together enable triathletes to do what they do.
The study is published in the journal Pain.
--ANI (Posted on 09-10-2013)