Clenching fists can ease painful moments

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: People facing unpleasant tasks can ease their painful moments by simply tensing their muscles, a study says.

The study also found that clenching fists temporarily boosts self-control and willpower.

Iris Hung from the National University of Singapore and Aparna Labroo from the University of Chicago put a group of volunteers through a range of tasks that involved accepting short-term pain.

These included placing hands in icy water, drinking watered down vinegar, watching a charity appeal and resisting unhealthy foods, reports the Consumer Research journal.

The authors found participants who tightened any muscle at the moment of facing an internal struggle were better able to withstand pain or discomfort, according to the Daily Mail.

However, if the volunteers tensed up too long beforehand, they felt depleted by the time they had to make a choice.

The effect also relied on the choice being aligned with the participant`s goals. For example, participants drank more unpleasant vinegar tonic if they said they wanted a healthier lifestyle.

The scientists concluded: "The mind and the body are so closely tied together, merely clenching muscles can activate willpower."

"Thus, simply engaging in these bodily actions can serve as a non-conscious source to recruit willpower."

IANS