Pain Perception After Running a 100-Mile Ultramarathon

Martin D. Hoffman, Jean Lee, Holly Zhao, Alex Tsodikov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hoffman MD, Lee J, Zhao H, Tsodikov A. Pain perception after running a 100-mile ultramarathon. Objective: To determine if pain perception is affected by an extreme bout of exercise that causes ongoing exercise-related pain. Design: Repeated-measures design. Setting: Pre-race registration area and finish area of an endurance race. Participants: Twenty-one competitors in the 2005 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and 11 control subjects who were assisting at the race but not running. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Overall pain and pain ratings on a pressure pain test before and after the event. Results: Mean overall pain ± standard deviation on a 100-mm scale increased (P<.05) from 3±6mm before the run to 39±28mm after the run among the runners. The faster runners showed a mean reduction (P<.05) in pain ratings after the race of 15±20mm (on a 100-mm scale), whereas there was no change for the slower runners and controls. Findings were confirmed by model-based analysis. Conclusions: The faster runners in a 100-mile (161-km) running race experience a modest temporary reduction in pressure pain perception that does not appear to be augmented by ongoing pain related to the exercise. The lack of a reduction in pain perception among the slower runners may be because an extreme bout of exercise of this nature can "exhaust" the systems responsible for exercise-induced analgesia in all but the most well-trained of runners, or that these systems were not activated because the slower runners were unable to maintain a high enough exercise intensity during the later stages of the race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1048
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesia
  • Exercise
  • Pain
  • Pain threshold
  • Physical effort
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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