But athletes don’t seem to have a higher threshold for pain than others. In other words, most people recognize pain the same way. Athletes can just stand more of it longer.
That seems to be because athletes tend to develop coping skills in their training. “Athletes are frequently exposed to unpleasant sensory experiences during their daily physical efforts, and high physical and psychological resistances must be overcome during competitions or very exhausting activities,” the researchers write. “However, athletes are forced to develop efficient pain-coping skills because of their systematic exposure to brief periods of intense pain.”
More from NPR here.