An experimental investigation of the relation between catastrophizing and activity intolerance

Michael J.L. Sullivan, Wendy M. Rodgers, Philip M. Wilson, Gordon J. Bell, Terra C. Murray, Shawn N. Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined the value of a measure of catastrophizing as a predictor of activity intolerance in response to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A sample of 50 (17 men, 33 women) sedentary undergraduates participated in an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle soreness and were asked to return 2 days later to perform the same physical maneuvres. Participants performed five strength exercises that emphasized the eccentric component of the muscle contraction in order to induce DOMS. Dependent variables of interest were the proportion reduction in total weight lifted, and the number of repetitions. Analyses revealed that catastrophizing, assessed prior to the first exercise bout, was significantly correlated with negative mood, pain and with reduction in weight lifted. Regression analyses revealed that catastrophizing predicted reductions in weight lifted even after controlling for pain and negative mood. These findings extend previous research in demonstrating that catastrophizing is associated with objective indices of activity intolerance associated with pain. Implications of these findings for understanding pain-related disability are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Nov. 2002


  • Activity
  • Catastrophizing
  • Exercise
  • Pain


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