Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional: What we can learn from Elite Athletes and Managing Pain

Alex Viada

An overview of how elite athletes manage pain and discomfort during training and competition, and how these techniques and adaptations can improve both sport performance and quality of life. With input from specialists in pain management, this presentation will cover pain processing, associative and dissociative management techniques, and physical adaptations to training and stress that all have implications in treating chronic pain, and making your athletes faster, stronger, and more durable.

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Course Syllabus

This course will begin with a high level overview of pain processing in the body, covering the nervous system, areas of the brain responsible for sensing pain, and both higher order (cognitive) and lower order (emotional processing) reactions to negative/noxious stimuli. How the body responds to pain, both acute and chronic, will be discussed, and the impact of pain on various athletic factors like peak power output, coordination, and nutrient processing will be covered.

The second segment will consist of a research overview on pain management techniques used by athletes, both in strength sport and endurance sport. Associative versus dissociative pain management, the impact of endurance training versus strength training on pain tolerance and threshold, and potential applications to non-athletic arenas will be covered here.

By the end of the lecture, the listener should have a better grasp of:

1.  The distinction between the sensation of pain and the emotional response to pain
2.  How athletes can better manage both training/competition discomfort and injury-related discomfort
3.  How these techniques can be used to improve performance
4.  Potential application of these techniques to non-athletes who suffer from chronic or injury-related pain

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