Science says swearing makes you stronger and better able to handle pain

If you've ever stubbed your toe, only to follow it with a string of expletives, you're likely aware of the cathartic effect such verbal spewing can bring. Previous research has found that swearing has a pain relief effect, though the precise reason for that is unclear, and now a new series of experiments have found that dirty language can also make you stronger. The increased strength effect was found during two experiments.

The latest research was performed by Keele University's Dr. Richard Stephens and a team of researchers. The study involved two experiments that are fairly simple in design: volunteers pedal an exercise bike in one and perform an isometric handgrip test in another. Before each test, though, participants let loose a volley of swear words to get things started.

In the instances where the volunteers swore, researchers noted that they were able to overall produce a greater level of power during the short and intense cycling. In the second test, volunteers who swore were found to have a stronger grip those volunteers who didn't swear ahead of time. A total of 29 volunteers took part in these tests.

Stephens explains, "We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully." The exact reason for the increased strength and pain relief effects remain unclear, though at one time the team had suggested that the sympathetic nervous system could be involved. Further tests contradicted that speculation, though, and so researchers are left on the hunt for an answer.

"So quite why it is," Stephens went on to say, "that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered. We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully." The fact remains, however, that swearing after a minor injury or when trying to lift something heavy may have a positive effect on the outcome.

SOURCE: Keele University