Martial artists know that posture is important because it affects how your body is balanced. But the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has just published a study relating posture to pain tolerance. The study is entitled “It Hurts When I Do this (or You Do that): Posture and Pain Tolerance.” In short, they found that adopting a more dominant, powerful posture actually reduced the amount of pain that a person feels. Rather than butcher the results with too much simplification, I’ll let you read the abstract (emphasis mine):

Recent research (Carney, Cuddy & Yap, 2010) has shown that adopting a powerful pose changes people’s hormonal levels and increases their propensity to take risks in the same ways that possessing actual power does. In the current research, we explore whether adopting physical postures associated with power, or simply interacting with others who adopt these postures, can similarly influence sensitivity to pain. We conducted two experiments. In Experiment 1, participants who adopted dominant poses displayed higher pain thresholds than those who adopted submissive or neutral poses. These findings were not explained by semantic priming. In Experiment 2, we manipulated power poses via an interpersonal interaction and found that power posing engendered a complementary (Tiedens & Fragale, 2003) embodied power experience in interaction partners. Participants who interacted with a submissive confederate displayed higher pain thresholds and greater hand-grip strength than participants who interacted with a dominant confederate.

If you’re not familiar with the importance of posture when it comes to technique, here is an excellent demonstration: