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Stress Induced Analgesia in Competitive Athletes

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Title: Stress Induced Analgesia in Competitive Athletes
Author: Hurwitz, Emily
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Psychology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 165231 bytes86850 bytes
Issue Date: 2006
Abstract: Competing in athletic games can produce analgesia from a heat stimulus in male and female soccer players and female basketball athletes compared to practice and baseline assessments. Observed competition induced analgesia has been attributed to the cognitive aspects of anticipating competition. Levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, will be elevated prior to games compared to practice and baseline sessions as well. Both studies evaluated the analgesic effects of anticipatory stress on athletes by assessing pain threshold temperatures and salivary cortisol levels after a slight warm up but before naturally occurring practices and games, and baseline sessions (after cycling for a fixed amount of time). As predicted, competing in games resulted in an increase in heat threshold in both males and females. Surprisingly, athletes had similar levels of pain thresholds prior to practice compared to before a game which suggests that athletes appraise both games and practices as a stressors. Cortisol levels in soccer players were significantly elevated before a game compared to practice and baseline sessions. These findings suggest that the cognitive stress associated with anticipation of athletic competition in both practice and game environments evokes an analgesic response.
Subject: Hydrocortisone -- Physiological effect
Subject: Stress (Psychology) -- Physiological aspects
Subject: Exercise -- Physiological aspects
Subject: Analgesia -- Physiological aspects
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Hurwitz, Emily. "Stress Induced Analgesia in Competitive Athletes". 2006. Available electronically from

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