“You Always Wanna Be Sore, Because Then You Are Seeing Results”: Exploring Positive Pain in Competitive Swimming

  • Gareth McNarry, Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, Adam B. Evans
  • Sociology of Sport Journal, January 2020, Human Kinetics
  • DOI: 10.1123/ssj.2019-0133

Exploring 'positive pain' in competitive swimming

Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

What is it about?

Pain has long been associated with sports participation, being analyzed variously as a physical phenomenon, as well as a socio-cultural construct in sport sociological literature. In this article, the authors employ a sociological–phenomenological approach to generate novel insights into the underresearched domain of “lived” pain in competitive swimming. Analytic attention is paid to specific aspects of pain, including “discomfort” and “good pain,” and how these sensations can be positively experienced and understood by the swimmers, as well as forming an integral part of the everyday routines of competitive swimming. Here, training is seen as “work” in the pursuit of athletic improvement. Discomfort and good pain thus become perceived as by-products of training, providing swimmers with important embodied information on pace, energy levels, and other bodily indicators of performance.

Why is it important?

Sociological phenomenology provides a powerful approach in investigations of the lived experience of sports and physical cultures. To date, there has been no other investigation of this nature in to “lived” pain in competitive swimming.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson and Gareth McNarry