• Pain and athletes: Contact sport participation and performance in pain

      Sheffield, David; Thornton, C; Jones, M.V.; University of Derby; Northumbria University; Manchester Metropolitan University (Elsevier BV, 2020-03-29)
      This study examined the effect of cold pressor pain on performance in high-contact athletes, low-contact athletes and non-athletes. A three-group between-subjects experimental design was used. Seventy-one participants completed a motor task and a cognitive task of different complexity (easy or hard) both in pain and not in pain. The motor task involved participants throwing a tennis ball at numbered targets in the correct order. In the cognitive task, participants were required to check off the numbers one to twenty-five in the correct order from a grid of randomly ordered numbers. Task difficulty was increased by adding dummy targets (motor task) or extra numbers (cognitive task). Cold pressor pain was rated as less intense by high-contact athletes during both tasks compared to low-contact athletes and non-athletes. High-contact athletes’ performance was not hampered by pain on the motor task, whereas it was in low-contact athletes and non-athletes. However, pain did not hamper performance for any group during the cognitive task. Low-contact and non-athletes did not differ from each other in their pain reports or the degree to which their performance was hampered by pain in either task. This study provides evidence that adaptation to pain through participation in high-contact sports can enhance both pain tolerance generally and motor performance specifically under increases in pain. The mechanisms behind these differences warrant further exploration.
    • A theory of challenge and threat states in athletes: a revised conceptualization

      Meijen, Carla; Turner, Martin; Jones, Marc V; Sheffield, David; McCarthy, Paul; St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Derby; Glasgow Caledonian University (Frontiers, 2020-02-06)
      The Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes (TCTSA) provides a psychophysiological framework for how athletes anticipate motivated performance situations. The purpose of this review is to discuss how research has addressed the 15 predictions made by the TCTSA, to evaluate the mechanisms underpinning the TCTSA in light of the research that has emerged in the last ten years, and to inform a revised TCTSA (TCTSA-R). There was support for many of the 15 predictions in the TCTSA, with two main areas for reflection identified; to understand the physiology of challenge and to re-evaluate the concept of resource appraisals. This re-evaluation informs the TCTSA-R which elucidates the physiological changes, predispositions, and cognitive appraisals that mark challenge and threat states. First, the relative strength of the sympathetic nervous system response is outlined as a determinant of challenge and threat patterns of reactivity and we suggest that oxytocin and neuropeptide Y are also key indicators of an adaptive approach to motivated performance situations and can facilitate a challenge state. Second, although predispositions were acknowledged within the TCTSA, how these may influence challenge and threat states was not specified. In the TCTSA-R it is proposed that one’s propensity to appraise stressors as a challenge that most strongly dictates acute cognitive appraisals. Third, in the TCTSA-R a more parsimonious integration of Lazarusian ideas of cognitive appraisal and challenge and threat is proposed. Given that an athlete can make both challenge and threat primary appraisals and can have both high or low resources compared to perceived demands, a 2x2 bifurcation theory of challenge and threat is proposed. This reflects polychotomy of four parts; high challenge, low challenge, low threat, and high threat. For example, in low threat, an athlete can evince a threat state but still perform well so long as they perceive high resources. Consequently, we propose suggestions for research concerning measurement tools and a reconsideration of resources to include social support. Finally, applied recommendations are made based on adjusting demands and enhancing resources.
    • ‘Trying to bring attention to your body when you’re not sure where it is’: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of drivers and barriers to mindfulness for people with spinal cord injury

      Hearn, Jasmine Heath; Finlay, Katherine Anne; Sheffield, David; University of Derby; Manchester Metropolitan University; The University of Buckingham (Wiley, 2020-08-04)
      Work is beginning to explore the impact of mindfulness in managing the physical and psychological health of people with spinal cord injury (SCI). However, no previous work has sought to understand what drives people with such conditions to try mindfulness, and what barriers are experienced in accessing mindfulness. An exploratory, qualitative, interview design, utilizing interpretative phe- nomenological analysis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 people with SCI who had experience of mindfulness since sustaining their injury. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using IPA to understand the lived experience of mindfulness post-SCI. Analysis suggested that managing physical and mental health, and viewing mindfulness as proactive and protective were key drivers for exploring mindfulness. However, multiple barriers to accessing opportunities and developing capability impeded engagement. These included the focus on areas of the body that participants had reduced sensation in, physical environments that could not be navigated in a wheelchair, social stigma surrounding the use of mindfulness, and a sense of obligation and risk of failure implied by perceived requirements for engagement. The results demonstrate the need for specific interventions to accom- modate the reduced sensory and physical function experienced by people with neurological conditions and to enhance sense of control and autonomy. In addition, recommendations include minimizing the stigma surrounding mindfulness, and the potentially demotivating impact of the perception of ‘failing’ to engage.