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Expectations regarding pain tolerance are imbedded in the culture of sport, and bear heavily on pain and injury management. The athlete’s experience of pain is an encounter with core issues in the ethos of sport. As such, pain behavior not only influences performance but also is seen as defining character. This case study looks at the pain experience of a track and field athlete over a several-hour period from initial injury to stabilization, blending the perspective of athlete and sport psychologist. As the injury experience evolved, a complex set of interacting biological, psychological and social factors came into play, which alternately facilitated and inhibited the pain experience and which influenced action taken in response to pain.
Heil is with Psychological Health Roanoke, Roanoke, VA.