Mitchell, Sheila, G




The study on the ‘No Pain, No Gain’ exercise mentality proved that in today’s society there is extremely high pressure on college-aged students and the college athlete to perform and be physically fit. This pressure often pushes the athlete and the fitness conscious student past what their body is capable of. Many college athletes use anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and ice to mask their symptoms and push past the pain. Appropriate therapy and rest is often ignored which leads to chronic pain and disabilities due to the injury.

This study looked at the physiological effects, as well as the psychological effects of overuse of the human body in a “no pain, no gain” mentality at the University of Rhode Island. This study proved that the college athlete suffers both physically and emotionally when an injury occurs. Helpful information was gathered from Dr. Chris Nasin M.D, a sports medicine physician at URI Health Services, as well as discussions with student-athletes at URI’s Injured Athlete Anonymous Support Group. I learned that the emotional toll on the athlete is just as debilitating as the physical toll. It is this mentality that does not allow the athlete to recognize the long term consequences of their injury. According to Dr. Nasin, “most student athletes live in the here and now and are unable to foresee the impact of an injury later”.


Exercise; mentality; injury; sports; training; athletes



Background: With the pressure to be fit in todays society the “no pain, no gain” exercise mentality has become a dangerous mindset among the average gym goer and the collegiate athlete. Studies assessing sports injuries in college-aged students in the United States indicate that the levels of sports injuries are rising. About 30% of all those injuries are a result of overuse (2015). Research is needed to identify the physical and mental factors that inhibit or promote these sports related injuries and provide steps that could be taken to prevent them.

Objective: To determine the top three injuries among University of Rhode Island students and basketball players who push their bodies physically past what is safe in order to achieve their fitness goals. As well as to determine if sports injury and the ‘no pain, no gain” mentality is different for those who play an organized sport such as basketball or those who just work out on their own.

Methods: The top injuries were determined through a voluntary survey done through the URI Athletics program; both students on URI’s men and women’s Basketball teams, and those who use the gym for their daily workout completed the survey. Interviews with students and doctors were used to help determine the different viewpoints on the students eligibility to train and play again after injury. Additionally, findings were expanded upon by attending an Injured Athletes Anonymous support group at URI.

Results: The survey conducted for the average gym goer had a sample (n=164) that was primarily female (n=119, 72%). 67% (n=100) and 21% (n=30) of the participants had an acute and/or chronic injury respectively, at one point in their lives. 25% (n=24) of those with an acute injury continued their workout despite their injuries and 46% (n=13) of those with a chronic injury continued their workout. The top three sports injuries were strained knee, sprained ankle, and concussion.

The survey conducted for the men and women’s basketball team had a sample (n=13) that was primarily male (n=9, 69%). 54% (n=7) of the participants are currently experiencing pain due to a sports related injury. 85% (n=11) of these athletes say they have continued to play despite an injury. 100% (n=13) and 54% (n=7) of the players have iced and used anti-inflammatories respectively, to reduce pain and swelling before continuing to play. The top three injuries for the basketball players were ankle sprains, fractured feet, and knee injuries.


One hundred percent of the basketball players who participated in the survey stated that they have pushed through their injury to continue their sport; while only 23% of the average gym goer pushed through their injury to continue their workout. The study results confirm that the “no pain no gain” mentality does affect all athletes, physically and mentally, when it comes to pushing their bodies past what they are capable of. The average gym goer, although not as prevalent to the mentality, feels pressure from themselves and their peers to keep up their physical appearance. More commonly, the collegiate athletes feel pressure to keep their commitment to their sport and their coaches. The pressure to succeed as a drafted collegiate athlete often overrides the attention and time needed to heal an injury, while the focus is on winning instead of long term quality of life. The “no pain, no gain” mentality was confirmed by the many athletes who attend the Injured Athletes Anonymous support group who suffer from overuse injuries. Further research needs to be focused on the long-term physical and mental effects of these injuries on the athlete.