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KINE 4740 Study Guide - Final Guide: Contact Sport, Sports Medicine, Guided Imagery

Kinesiology & Health Science
Course Code
KINE 4740
Francis Flint
Study Guide

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Understanding the Psychology of Pain in Sport
Pain is…
‘an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or
potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage’
non-specific experience mediated by cognitive, affective, behavioral
influences which serve three functions
i) to limit damage
ii) to serve as warning
iii) to facilitate learning in relation to potentially dangerous
Melzack and Wall’s Gate Control Theory (GCT)
-most influential contemporary theory
-metaphor of a gate which controls the extent of pain experienced by an
individual; neural mechanisms in the dorsal horn act as a gate which modulates
impulses transmitted to the brain (hence pain perception)
-the width of the gate (how much pain one can tolerate?) is influenced by somatic
and sensory information
-cognitive processes seen as acting alongside affective, motivational and
evaluative factors in adaptation of somatic inputs
-attentional styles and affective states influence pain (individual differences and
perceptions of pain)
Parallel Processing Model
-sensory perceptual info, responsible for the distress of pain, is processed in
parallel to information on the location, duration, and intensity of pain
-pain processing occurs at preconscious levels
-complex informational network responsible for processing the location and
quality of the stimulus operating alongside emotional and motivational systems
With reference to exercise and physical exertion – characterized by different
courses of time and etiology (MOI):
-pain is felt during or immediately after exercise
-muscle soreness with a delayed onset (DOMS)
-pain induced by muscle cramps
Athletic Pain:
-pain present during athletic activity
-pain that persists for a short time after athletic activity
-both during athletic activity and routine
-pain that is brought on by routine activities
PROBLEM: neither accommodates pain, which occurs routinely during sport
participation, nor do they mention psychological factors
-when is it appropriate to allow an athlete to continue?
-when to advise rest?
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Researchers have routinely investigated pain effects in sport
-ischaemic muscle; restriction in blood to supply to tissue – shortage of
oxygen leading to dysfunctional muscle
-while significant, it represents but one of many instances of
Sport performers vs Sedentary or non-athletic population
-athletes take risks to try to further their performance; an inherent part to
sport; a sub-culture of competitive sport governed by unspoken set of
rules eg ‘no pain, no gain’
-performer learns how to make the best of injured state, how to deal with
restrictions, thus shortening rehab time and promoting speedy return to
-how do you know when enough is enough?
-do athletes choose high contact sport because they already have a high
pain threshold which makes them well adapted for the sport? Or does the
experience of high contact sport nurture pain tolerance?
-as yet it is impossible to state conclusively that athletes tolerate more
pain than non-athletes as results appear to depend on type of stimulation
(whether or not induced pain is sport-specific), previous experience of
that type of pain, or the sport in question (rugby vs golf)
-pain may be a reflection of perceptual styles
Reducers, Augmenters, Moderators:
-Reducers: decrease what is perceived, hence able to tolerate higher
levels of pain
-Augmenters: tolerate less pain than moderators as shows tendency to
increase the signals that are perceived
Culture, Pain and Sport (social and cultural expectations)
-Nixon & Frey; maintain “macho” image amongst peers – may lead
athletes to compete while they still have injuries; their perception of pain is
that tolerance is integral and necessary parts of competition
-media reinforce the macho image of some sports
-macho – praised for courage and heroism in the face of adversity
Males vs Females:
-believed that males with low pain tolerance linked to depression, anxiety,
hostility while the opposite is true for females
-males are “conditioned” to tolerate pain while females do not have to
brave pain to maintain their “feminine image”
-eg why contact/dangerous sports remain predominately or
exclusively male reserves
Social Pressures in Group Setting:
-shock test – encouragement = 3x higher pain tolerance
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Lazarus and Folkman’s Cognitive Appraisal:
-once sensation is registered – perceives threatening or non-threatening (primary
appraisal) followed by more sophisticated discrimination of determining which 6
types of pain he/she is experience (secondary appraisal)
-large number of extrinsic and intrinsic factors involved with the labeling and
decision making
-if rewards associated with success = “keep going” rather than “stop/seek help”
-feedback loop suggests this is a dynamic process such that – immediately? Or
after varying periods of time, successive evaluation processes take place as
athlete continues to monitor the experience and reassess his/her efficacy of
chosen behavior responses to pain
-cognitive coping strategies
Sport Pain Taxonomy – Categorizing the Sensations of Pain:
-Fatigue/Discomfort- normal and routine sensations associated with
physical activity and exercise
-Positive Training Pain- non-threatening type of pain associated with
endurance exercise eg noxious sensations that occurred in lungs and
-occurs beyond fatigue, results of continuing exercise after initial
feelings of fatigue and tiredness; under voluntary control, thus pain
is viewed in a positive light
-Negative Warning Pain – akin to negative training pain but more serious
element of threat associated; first time experiencing pain = can be
perceived as a prelude of to an injury. This pain did not occur suddenly
thus athlete was able to evaluate the situation and carry out appropriate
-Negative Acute Pain – sudden/immediate as a result of contact or
traumatic injury associated with physical activity. Labelled as intense,
instantaneous, catastrophic types of pain.
-Numbness- highly negative sensation characterized not by pain per se
but absence of sensation
Imagery use by injured athletes: A qualitative analysis
-cognitively reproducing or visualizing an object, scene or sensation as
though it were occurring in overt, physical reality
-evokes physical characteristics of an absent object, event, activity that
has been perceived in the past or may take place in the future
-can incorporate all five senses: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustation
(tasting), kinesthetic (touch)
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