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Lorette J. Pen, Craig Fisher, Gary A. Sforzo and Beth G. McManis

The effects of cognitive strategies on pain tolerance and performance in subjects with muscle soreness were investigated. Female (n = 18) and male (n =12) subjects were matched for strength and then randomly assigned to dissociation, association, or control groups. Muscle soreness was induced in the quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups by repeated eccentric contractions against heavy resistance, which resulted in significant decrements in peak torque (PT) and total work (TW). ANOVAs revealed no significant group differences (p < .05) in muscle soreness, state anxiety, and estimated strength and endurance performance 48 hr following the soreness induction. Association strategy subjects increased their quadriceps strength performance following cognitive intervention, whereas strength performance in the dissociation and control groups was not affected. No significant treatment effects were observed for hamstrings strength or quadriceps and hamstrings endurance. Both dissociation and association groups perceived that using the strategies enhanced their performance. This illusory efficacy effect may have implications for performance enhancement, particularly in injury rehabilitation.