MythBusters recently did a show on pain, and who’s better at dealing with it… men or women. On the show, women won by a narrow margin. I think it had to do with the fact they couldn’t actually hurt anyone for the purposes of the show, so they used a simple ice bath to induce pain in each of the 50 subjects (25 men and 25 women). Not to mention these test subjects were probably a bunch of college students hired off the street who were probably only paid $5.00 to participate (if anything). Who wouldn’t pull their hand out after 45 seconds of throbbing pain if they were only getting $5 bucks?
During a lull in conversation today we decided to do our own head to head competition to find out just how painful an ice bath really is, and who could last the longest.
In the end, the competitive atmosphere proved too much for the ice baths. We were all able to tolerate (some better than others) the ice bath up to the 3 minute safety mark. Past that and it becomes pointless as nerves start to numb out and actual bodily damage becomes a possibility. I’d have to say we all began to feel pain around the 10-15 second mark, which then peaked out at around 1 minute. From 1 minute to 2 minutes the pain just sat there, then it transformed to a new kind of pain at around 2 minutes, and from there it just started to get numb and throbby.
They say childbirth is about as painful as the pain experienced after being immersed in an ice bath for 2 minutes. Both lovely young ladies doing this test with me felt quite happy with the knowledge they could handle childbirth… until I reminded them that the pain would not be in their hands.