Exercise and Pain Tolerance


There’s a saying when it comes to exercise. “No pain, no gain.” Exercise and pain sometimes go hand-in-hand when it comes to reaching and surpassing your fitness goals. New research in the field of exercise pain is giving new insights into how pain is processed.

Alexis Mauger is an exercise scientist at the University of Kent in Britain. He is studying the role of pain during exercise and how important it is. While there were some interesting and conflicting results, one thing that was agreed on was that pain cannot be avoided during exercise.

Thomas O’Leary and Martin Morris of Oxford Brookes University presented a study on how regular exercise affects pain tolerance. Previous similar studies have proven that while regular exercise doesn’t affect pain sensitivity, or basically, when you say “ow,” but does affect the length of time a person can endure a level of pain. The study put volunteers into two exercise groups: one group did continuous moderate paced cycling for an hour or more and the other integrated six sets of high intensity intervals. The group that engaged in the high intensity intervals saw a 45% improvement in pain tolerance.

However, pain may not be pain when engaging in exercise. Pain is evidence that there is actual or potential tissue damage. During prolonged exercise, people are often fighting a heightened perception of effort rather than actual pain. It is important to differentiate between the two.

If you need help with an exercise regimen or feel like you need to challenge yourself, Frank Tortorici can help you meet your exercise goals. Contact him today for an appointment.

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