The Science Behind Why You Say ‘Ow’ When You’re In Pain

When you stub your toe or bang your head, why is the initial response always to yell “ouch” (or something less printable)? Scientists may have the answer.

New research from the National University of Singapore suggests that vocalizing may interfere with pain signals traveling to the brain, distracting you from the uncomfortable sensations you’re feeling.

The researchers gathered 56 test participants and had each person submerge his or her hand into painfully cold water four separate times. In each case, participants were asked either to say “ow,” to listen to a recording of a person saying “ow,” to press a button or to remain passive and silent.

Both saying “ow” and pressing the button were found to have a positive effect on pain tolerance. When participants said “ow” or pushed a button, they were able to withstand the pain for an average of 30 seconds, compared to an average of 23 seconds among participants who did neither. Sitting passively, on the other hand, did not improve pain tolerance. Nor did hearing a recording of someone saying “ow,” whether it was the participant’s own voice or someone else’s.

The findings suggest that making some kind of vocal utterance may be —> Read More Here


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