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    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Love Painkiller For Athletes?

    There are many athletes that indulge to the game called love. It's puzzling but rewarding. To name a few athletes who indulged to the game called love, Magic Johnson, Kenny Anderson and Tiger Woods. All of them are hardworking guys. They go to the gym to tear some muscles and they jog and run to strain their lungs and heart. They all need a break. A rewarding spa, a foot and body massage, a protein shake, a cigarette perhaps but that won't immediately attend to the pain that their body have because of too much hardwork. They resort to the heat of love. It appeared to be relaxing and rewarding.

    There are recent studies in the US particularly in the world famous Stanford University by world class psychologists. Their study has shown that passions triggered by the early flushes of a relationship block physical pain in a similar way to painkillers and drugs. They tested this theory to 15 male and female students who are in a relationship and who are very serious and passionate early stages of a love affair.

    Here's the process and the result of the experiment from Telegraph.co.uk:
    First, they were shown photos of their partners while a computer-controlled heat probe placed in the palms of their hands delivered mild doses of pain. At the same time, the students had their brains scanned by a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging machine. The study showed that feelings of love, triggered by seeing a photo of one's beloved, acted as a powerful pain killer.
    Focusing on a photo of an attractive acquaintance rather than a relationship partner did not have the same benefit.

    The scans revealed that the effects of love could be compared with those of morphine and cocaine, both of which target the brain's "reward centres". Study participants were given mental challenges such as thinking of non-ball sports to take their minds off pain.

    The aim was to ensure that love was not simply working as a distraction.
    The scientists found that both love and distraction combat pain, but they act on very different brain pathways.

    Dr. Sean Mackey, the study leader and head of the Division of Pain Management at Stanford University Medical Center in California, said: "When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain. We're beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine – a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation."

    The scientists recruited Stanford students who were in the first nine months of a romantic relationship.

    Also according to Dr. Mackey, "We intentionally focused on this early phase of passionate love, We specifically were not looking for longer-lasting, more mature phases of the relationship. We wanted subjects who were feeling euphoric, energetic, obsessively thinking about their beloved, craving their presence. When passionate love is described like this, it in some ways sounds like an addiction. We thought, 'maybe this does involve similar brain systems as those involved in addictions which are heavily dopamine-related'."

    The result showed that Dopamine a kind of brain chemical is the reason why they feel good when they experience love, by merely seeing a picture of their partner despite being pinched by another person. What more if they are together in bed. Thus,I believe athletes need love.

    Dr Jarred Younger, also from Stanford, said: "Love-induced analgesia is much more associated with the reward centres.It appears to involve more primitive aspects of the brain, activating deep structures that may block pain at a spinal level – similar to how opioid analgesics work."

    But be careful with love:

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