Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Pain and suffering in sports 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
Get posts in your inbox:
Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Interesting read on the idea of no pain, no gain in sport:

Japanese trainers have gone so far as to enshrine this marriage of pain and athletic discipline in the concept of taibatsu, which translates roughly as ‘corporal punishment’. In his piece on Japanese baseball for The Japan Times last year, Robert Whiting traces the concept to one Suishu Tobita, head coach of the fabled Waseda University team in the 1920s. Tobita advocated ‘a baseball of savage pain and a baseball practice of savage treatment’. Players nicknamed his practice sessions ‘death training’: ‘If the players do not try so hard as to vomit blood in practice,’ he said, ‘then they cannot hope to win games. One must suffer to be good.’

Oh, Japan: you’re so kooky! And probably right. There’s a part of me that howls in outrage at the idea that “one must suffer to be good,” but there’s another part of me that’s all, “Oh yeah, no, that is so true!”

Here’s a dramatic example of athletic toughness, and a nice demonstration of how “pain is an opinion”:

Shoulder dislocations are notoriously painful, but this rugby player dislocates his shoulder and just pauses to calmly, competently pop it back in place. In other words, this player’s brain seems to be more concerned about getting back in the game than worrying about a shoulder dislocation! Of course there’s more to it than that. Chances are good this guy has dislocated his shoulder quite a few times, and it’s so hypermobile that it isn’t nearly as brutal for him as it looks. Still an interesting example though!