Home » News » Many Sports Medicine Students Struggle With Constant Pain

Many Sports Medicine Students Struggle With Constant Pain

A large number of people with sports-centered majors or careers struggle with constant pain, either physical or psychological, according to a new German study at Goethe University Frankfurt.

“One in three top athletes suffers significant pain,” said Dr. Johannes Fleckenstein, private lecturer at Goethe University.

And while little research has been done on this issue, Fleckenstein has made it the main focus of his classes. This led to a master’s thesis in which the author Anke Bumann looks predominantly at the situation of sports students.

Bumann sent her questionnaire to the students of 89 sports sciences institutes in German-speaking regions. The response was impressive: 865 individuals participated, 664 completed the entire form, some adding very detailed answers in their own words.

The basis of the survey was the “German pain questionnaire” of the German Pain Society, supplemented by specific aspects such as athleticism, extent of training, self-efficacy and resilience.

The respondents reported where and how many regions of the body were in pain, which injuries and other diagnoses were present, as well as psychological factors, alcohol consumption and sleep quality.

The findings reveal that one in four of the presumably healthy young individuals suffers from pain and shows occurrence of what are known as biopsychosocial factors that can foster pain, in particular stress resulting from high performance pressure.

More than half of the participants said they feel pain in two or more regions of the body, although most of them report a relatively high pain tolerance. Compared with others their age, sports students tend to have more frequent depression, anxiety and stress, while at the same time their self-compassion was significantly lower.

On average, the students train five to seven hours a week and consume more painkillers (analgesics) and alcohol. More than 60 percent report a sleep disorder.

The findings are the same for all types of sports, with only the location of the pain being different. The lack of self-compassion for their own bodies and its limitations leads, however, to the condition becoming chronic and increasingly difficult to change.

The overall responses make it clear that the need is great: There was a frequent expression of happiness that attention was now being paid to the issue and for the opportunity to express one’s problems.

Fleckenstein hopes that if students identify and discuss this issue early it will help them deal with their pain more openly without the fear of being branded as “wimps.” In his opinion, teachers could also make a positive contribution by giving more consideration to the health of the candidates during practical exams. And when the sports scientists complete their education and assume corresponding professional positions, they could gradually contribute to a change in attitudes.

“We have to finally stop trivializing the issue of pain in sports,” he said.

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt


Many Sports Medicine Students Struggle With Constant Pain

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2020). Many Sports Medicine Students Struggle With Constant Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Mar 2020 (Originally: 30 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Mar 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.