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Keywords:

  • Pain;
  • Exercise;
  • Hypoalgesia;
  • Mechanism;
  • Modulation;
  • Kaatsu

Abstract

Pain sensitivity decreases with exercise. The mechanisms that underlie this exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH) are unclear. Our purpose was to investigate conditioned pain modulation (CPM) as a potential mechanism of EIH. Sixteen women completed pain testing during three sessions: painful exercise, nonpainful exercise, and quiet rest. Intensity and unpleasantness ratings to noxious heat stimuli were assessed at baseline and during and following each session. Results showed that pain sensitivity decreased significantly during both exercise sessions (p < .05), but not during quiet rest. Effect size calculations showed that the size of the hypoalgesic response was greater following painful exercise than nonpainful exercise. Our results suggest that exercise-induced muscle pain may contribute to the magnitude of EIH. However, as pain sensitivity also decreased following nonpainful exercise, CPM is not likely the primary mechanism of EIH.