Ever wondered why every time you hurt yourself, you end up yelling, “ow” or “ouch”? Whenever you hit your pinky toe on a solid object, or when you burn your hand with a frying pan, you are more than likely to vocalize. There are people who have wondered why this is a common reaction while others never put much thought about it. If you are one of those people wondering why this is so, then science seems to have the answer to this question:

According to studies carried out by the National University of Singapore, vocalizing helps distract the brain from receiving pain signals traveling from the injured part of your body. 56 volunteers were tested during this research. Each volunteer was asked to stick their hands in extremely cold water, each one having four different options for their reaction (say, “ow”, listen to a recording of someone saying, “ow”, remain silent and passive or press a button.

Those who reacted by saying, “ow” or pressing a button were able to tolerate the pain for a few seconds longer than the rest, approximately 30 seconds or longer. Those that reacted by listening to someone saying “ow” or by remaining passive and silent did not fair so well. This is regardless of whether they were listening to a recording of their own voice or someone else’s.

According to the study, vocal utterance will help people cope with pain better. Director of the Pain Research, Dr. Daniel Carr of Tufts University said that making some kind of noise after a part of the body has been subjected to pain helps reduce the brain’s awareness of the pain.

While the results of the study are quite certain, more information needs to be collected to determine whether vocalizing helps improve the brain’s pain tolerance, and whether the same works for acute and chronic pain.

Dr. Daniel went ahead to say that while the change in seconds from the research was not a huge effect, the study was well-designed, and a lot can be learned from it. For more information you didn’t know you need, follow us at Bryerson Education.