Influence of Martial Arts Training on the Perception of Experimentally Induced Pressure Pain and Selected Psychological Responses

By Focht, Brian C.; Bouchard, Lester J. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Influence of Martial Arts Training on the Perception of Experimentally Induced Pressure Pain and Selected Psychological Responses


Focht, Brian C., Bouchard, Lester J., Murphey, Milledge, Journal of Sport Behavior


The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the influence of martial arts training on the perception of experimentally induced pressure pain, anger, and physical self-efficacy. Thirty novice volunteers (M age = 20.6 years; SD = 1.5 years; 12 females and 18 males) completed assessments of anger (STAXI), physical self-efficacy (PSES), pain threshold (PT), and pain ratings (PR) prior to and following 14-weeks of participation in a martial arts (MA; n=15) or control condition (CON; n = 15). Data were analyzed via 2 (gender) x 2 (conditions) x 2 (trials) mixed model MANOVA with univariate ANOVAs and simple effects test post hoc analysis. Results indicated a significant increase in pain threshold F(1, 28) = 5.71, p [less than] 0.02 as well as a significant decrease in pain ratings F(1, 28) = 5.87, p [less than] 0.02 when compared to baseline measurements following the MA condition. No significant (p [greater than] 0.05) changes in anger or physical self-efficacy were detected following MA participation and no significant changes in any of the dependent measures emerged for the CON condition. It is concluded that MA training is associated with improvements in the perception of experimentally induced pain.

Current estimates indicate that elevations in mood disturbance (i.e., anxiety and depression) remain pervasive in today's society (Raglin, 1990). Moreover, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the emotional stress which typically accompanies periods of dysphoric mood possesses negative consequences for physical health as well as psychological well-being (Raglin, 1997). Although various psychological disorders have been linked to the pathogenesis of chronic disease (Raglin, 1990), some investigators contend that the most salient psychological factor that contributes to this relationship is the experience and expression of anger (Williams, 1987). In support of this assertion, recent findings suggest that anger contributes to the development of many chronic health disorders (Speilberger, 1996). Furthermore, both the perceived intensity of the anger and the manner in which it is expressed have been proposed to be important factors in determining the extent of its deleterious effects upon physical health ( Speilberger, Krasner, & Solomon, 1988).

Findings from the Surgeon General's report on physical activity and health suggests that participation in regular physical activity is associated with improvements in mood and may reduce the risk of developing psychological disorders (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Thus, physical activity is becoming acknowledged as a legitimate form of primary and secondary prevention for the development of negative emotional states. While the majority of the research supporting these conclusions has primarily addressed the influence of fitness activities such as aerobic or resistance exercise on anxiety or depression (Morgan, 1985), much less is known regarding the impact of different forms of recreational physical activity on other psychological variables such as anger.

It is important to note that the expanding recognition of the benefits associated with exercise therapy are not limited to psychological health. The extensive economic impact associated with chronic pain has led medical practitioners to begin seeking alternative methods of prevention and treatment as well. The use of exercise in the treatment of pain is becoming increasingly advocated (Risch, Norvell, Pollock, et al., 1993) and it has been reported that a majority of pain management programs incorporate some form of exercise as part of the treatment strategy (Raithel, 1989).

Findings from prior research have suggested that acute bouts of aerobic and resistance exercise performed at a sufficient intensity are associated with an analgesic response to experimentally induced pressure pain (Koltyn, Wertz, Gardiner, & Nelson, 1996; Koltyn & Arbogast, 1997).

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