You smash your finger with a hammer, stub your toe, accidentally touch a hot pan — it hurts like hell and you often curse in reaction. But did you know that those curse words can actually help reduce the pain you’re feeling?
British researchers found that saying a swear word helped subjects in a 2009 study better tolerate pain. The study, published in the journal NeuroReport , found that subjects who let loose with some well-chosen curse words felt less pain — and could tolerate pain longer — than those who didn’t swear.
As explained in Scientific American, the researchers measured how long 67 student volunteers could submerge their hand in icy water while either constantly swearing or repeating a neutral word. Those who swore could withstand the pain for 40 seconds longer; they also reported feeling less pain.
So why does swearing help us deal with pain better? The researchers theorize that swearing triggers the brain’s “fight-or-flight response and nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception.”
There’s just one catch. The more you swear, the less effect those curse words have. So keep it clean until you really need to.
Photo credit: AMagill via flickr