From Ergo Log
Intensive physical training is less painful if you do it together with others than if you do it alone. Researchers at the University of Oxford came to this conclusion after doing an experiment with 12 rowers.
The researchers placed a blood pressure cuff around the upper arm of the rowers and inflated it until the rowers experienced severe pain. The rowers were all men, and members of the University of Oxford Boat Club.
On another occasion the researchers got the rowers to train intensively beforehand for 45 minutes on an ergometer, and then determined how far they could inflate the blood pressure cuff before the rowers could stand it no longer.
When you do intensive physical exercise endorphins are released: these are natural painkillers, which also give you a feeling of wellbeing. Some athletes even experience a high. That’s why the researchers were able to inflate the blood pressure cuff several tens of mmHg more after the rowers’ workout than they had during the initial measurement.
The researchers also got the rowers to do their workout under two different sets of conditions: individually [white part of figure below] and together, in a sort of simulated boat [black part].
The rowers had to row twice on their own and twice collectively.
The researchers discovered that the collective training resulted in a higher pain threshold than the individual training did. This probably means that athletes who train together probably have a broader pain bandwidth than athletes who train alone.
The researchers suspect that training in a group stimulates the production of endorphins more than individual training does. Another study has shown that social activities such as laughing together [Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Mar 22;279(1731):1161-7.] result in a higher level of endorphin production and a higher pain threshold. The same is probably also true for the effects of training.
Biol Lett. 2010 Feb 23;6(1):106-8.