Jessie McDougall’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “The influences of pain coping strategies and competition level on conditioned pain modulation in rock climbers”

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Crocker (Kinesiology)
Committee Members: Dr. John Kramer (Kinesiology) and Dr. Anita DeLongis (Kinesiology)

Abstract: Athletes appear to have higher pain tolerances than non-athletes, but it is not known why (Tesarz et al., 2012). Examining dynamic measures of pain such as conditioned pain modulation (CPM) may help explain the relationship between sport participation and pain tolerance. Athletes appear to have better CPM than non-athletes (Flood et al., 2016), but evidence is still equivocal (Tesarz, et al., 2013). They may also have developed better coping strategies to manage pain (Deroche et al., 2011), however, the impact of coping on athletes’ CPM is not well understood. Also, CPM and coping research up to this point has focused on traditional sport athletes, neglecting adventure sport athletes. The proposed study will attempt to fill this gap by examining CPM and coping strategies in elite and non-elite rock climbers. The study will examine if coping strategies mediate the relationship between rock climber’s competition status (elite or non-elite) and pain modulation. Pain coping strategies will be measured using the Coping Strategies Questionnaire – Revised (Riley & Robinson, 1997) and pain modulation will be measured using pressure and ischemic pain CPM in 26 elite and 26 non-elite rock climbers. Elite athletes are expected to have higher pain modulation compared to non-elite athletes, and the relationship between athlete status and pain modulation is expected to be mediated by coping. The findings of this study will contribute to the understanding of pain tolerance differences in athletes, and provide insight as to how rock climbers cope with pain.