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Dannecker, E A.1; Gagnon, C M.1; Brown, J L.1; Jump, R L.1; Robinson, M E.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p S243
E-14U Free Communication/Poster Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Disorders

1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

(Sponsor: Patrick J. OConnor, FACSM)

Musculoskeletal pain is the most frequently reported type of pain and muscle injuries are one of the most common sports injuries. However, no published investigations about the performance and perceived effectiveness of self-care behaviors for muscle pain were located.

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To examine the use and perceived efficacy of 14 potentially beneficial or harmful self-care behaviors for muscle pain.

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A questionnaire was completed by 305 college students. Muscle pain experienced during the previous week (highest, usual, and lowest), the frequency of performing self-care behaviors, and the perceived effectiveness of self-care behaviors were assessed.

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The mean highest intensity of muscle pain on a 0 (no pain) to 100 (most intense pain sensation imaginable) scale was 37.26 (SD = 24.33). According to a repeated measures ANOVA, differences in the performance of the self-care behaviors were detected. F (13, 3939) = 297.69, p. <.001, η2 = .50. Pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni adjustment indicated that stretching and rubbing/massaging were the most commonly performed behaviors while resting and exercising were the second most commonly performed behaviors. In addition, differences in the perceived effectiveness of the self-care behaviors were detected, F (13, 3926) = 149.81, p <.001, η2 = .33. Resting, stretching, and rubbing/massaging were perceived to be the most effective self-care behaviors. The perceived effectiveness of the behaviors was significantly correlated (rs = .24 – .50) to the frequency of performing the behaviors for all the behaviors except consuming a prescription pain reliever.

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Some potentially beneficial behaviors (e.g., ice, compression, and taking analgesic medication) were not commonly performed and/or not perceived as highly effective while some potentially harmful behaviors (e.g., heat and exercise) were often performed and/or perceived as effective. The relationship between perceived efficacy and performance suggests that education about the potential benefit or harm of these behaviors may improve self-care. Supported by a NIAMS postdoctoral research fellowship (F32 AR08623–02).

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine