Pain Tolerance vs. Pain Threshold
Before getting into some methods of how to raise your pain tolerance, I am going to review the difference between pain tolerance and pain threshold. Your pain tolerance is the most pain you can stand. It is the point where you'd safe word out during a scene. This is what this article is going to help you raise, with the goal of being able to withstand more pain. Your pain threshold is the lowest amount of pain it takes for you to be able to feel it. Both of these can change throughout the course of your life, and likely do multiple times depending on age and situations that are happening in your life.
Ways to Raise Your Pain Tolerance
Now, I am going to go on to explore different methods that have been applied successfully in raising individual's pain tolerance. Most of these can be applied during a scene or a way to plan an S&M pain tolerance building scene. Some can be applied outside of scenes too.
Breathing and Meditation
By applying different controlled breathing patterns or meditation, you are able to calm your body down and push the thoughts of pain into the back of your mind. Essentially these are just calming distractions from the pain. Being well rested, healthy, and stress free all increase your pain tolerance. So practicing mediation and controlled breathing exercises outside of scenes will also carry over some of the their pain tolerance rising properties during a scene because you will be able to be more relaxed going into it.
You know how you see women in labor doing all their short, shallow, controlled repetitive breathing? This method really works, though lots of fast shallow breathing may not be the best during a scene. Consider taking lots of deep, slow breaths as much as you can, and focus on inhaling in and exhaling out to distract from the pain even more.
Positive Self Talk
This is another similar method to increase your pain tolerance during a scene. Words have power, and by using repetitive positive sayings, like "I don't feel the pain" or "My [whatever body part] doesn't hurt," you are able to use the power of words to almost trick your mind into believing that is true.
You could apply this method in a scene where you partner is aware of your goal to raise your pain tolerance, and he/she could be offering up these positive phrases to help you as well. And more generally, any positive feedback from your partner will help some in a similar way. Receiving praise from the top during the scene could motivate you more to push yourself. It is best to try to avoid getting so caught up in pleasing the top in the scene that you push yourself too far. Always remember that if things are getting to be too much, it's perfectly acceptable to use your safe word.
This is less a method to apply during a scene, but a way of practice to work on developing a pain tolerance through progressive conditioning to the pain. So this method means that during scenes, gradually increase the amount of pain that is being applied to the bottom in that scene. Applying some of these other tips on how to improve your pain tolerance can be done during this process. This method can work on a mental level where the bottom during the scene can slowly work on appreciating the pain more.
There are some who say that flooding is another method. That's where you keep submitting to a high amount of pain, not gradually building up it. But this can leave your nerves raw and is harder to willingly want to go along with.
Exercise, Rest, and a Lack of Stress
I grouped these all together because they fall into the general category of taking good care of yourself. And as an added benefit of being healthy and happy, your pain tolerance will rise.
Exercise, especially running or cycling for an extended time, pushing your endurance, can improve your pain tolerance. When you are fit, you can endure pain better.
Stress makes your more vulnerable to pain. Your body isn't able to have up its normal defenses against pain when you are under stress, so even little things will feel more painful if you are under a lot of stress.
Odds and Ends
This is a neat little bit of advice I learned from an episode of Myth Busters once: Swearing raises your pain tolerance. It somehow triggers the flight or fight response and automatically minimizes the pain you can feel.
Avoiding pain medication is another way to work on increasing your pain tolerance. People who take pain medication for the slightest headache or bit of pain have a very low pain tolerance. The use of such medication leaves you unprepared to deal with actual pain.
Pain is Warning Sign
Like I mentioned a bit above, never feel like you can't use your safe word. Pain is your body's way of warning you that something is wrong. So don't ignore the pain. And don't push your body past what it can handle. Having a goal to raise your pain tolerance is fine, it can be useful. But be careful not to be too motivated to withstand more pain that you suffer some injury and continue instead of using your safe word and getting help.