Pain experience in sport had been the subject of increasing research in recent years. While sports professionals have generally been found to have higher pain thresholds than control subjects the reasons for this are not entirely clear. The present study seeks to investigate one possible explanatory factor, the importance of the popular image of the physical activity and of the self-image of its participants, by examining pain experience in professional ballet dancers. Like sports professionals, dancers were found to have higher pain and pain tolerance thresholds than age matched controls in the Cold Pressor Test. However, they also reported a more acute experience of the sensory aspects of the pain. Explanations of this apparent paradox are discussed both in terms of the neuroticism scores of the two groups and in terms of the dancers' greater experience of pain and its relationship with physical activity. The results illustrated the importance of using multidimensional measures of pain in this type of investigation.
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