Why triathletes are stronger than you

Why triathletes are stronger than you

You may look at triathletes and wonder how they do what they do. Well researchers say there may actually be a science behind their strong build and endurance.

With strenuous sports like bicycling, running, swimming and going the long distances, the training these athletes endure is almost beyond human.

So researchers from the Department of Physical Therapy at Tel Aviv University sought out to find out just why these athletes are so tough. And they believe that it’s actually because these athletes feel less pain than a normal-routine exerciser.

“In our study, triathletes rated pain lower in intensity, tolerated it longer, and inhibited it better than individuals in a control group,” said one of the lead authors of the study, Professor Ruth Defrin, in a statement. “We think both physiological and psychological factors underlie these differences and help explain how triathletes are able to perform at such a high level.”

These athletes go above and beyond in competitive events, going the extra mile (literally) without any rest.

The study, published in the journal Pain, followed 19 triathletes and 17 average athletes. The triathletes participated in at least two triathlons events each year, while the non-triathletes did short, not-as-grueling activities like running, fitness classes and non-competitive swimming.

Researchers had the group of both sets of athletes participate in a wide-array of psychophysical pain tests along with being asked questions about their pain tolerance.

One of the tests involved the participants having a heating device applied to one arm, while the other was submerged in an ice-cold bath. Results showed that triathletes were able to endure the pain longer, but also observed it as being less extreme than the non-triathletes.

Triathletes also said that they do not fear or worry about pain as much as the non-triathlete group did.

Researchers also believe that these triathletes have been trained so well that their bodies actually respond more powerfully to pain.

They also hope to do more research to uncover whether these triathletes do this type of sport due to their natural ability to endure more pain or because their training has given them the ability to feel less pain. They hope that further research could help people with chronic pains.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.