Skateboarders, soccer players and karate masters the world over know this sensation all too well. That queasiness in the pit of your gut that folds you like an old lawn chair. Some say it’s like twisting your insides as if they were the spout of a carnival balloon, and others liken it to menstrual cramping.
Hell, if you haven’t felt it once in your life then consider yourself lucky.
But, for those that have, science can shed a little bit of light on why your stomach hurts when you get kicked/credit-carded/kneed in the crotch.
While tears, cold sweat, intense nausea and the inevitable collapse to the ground in the fetal position may seem like putting on a show, in truth it’s your bodies way of dealing with the incredible overload of stimuli.
“This is essentially a defense mechanism by the body to reduce the painful sensation,” says Dr. Muhammad A. Mirza, founder of erectiledoctor.com.
But that’s just the tip (no pun intended) of the cold-as-the-lower-levels-of-hell iceberg.
Firstly: when a man gets hit in the groin, signals are launched up to his brain at around 265 mph, saying “Hey, uh, I don’t want to seem bothersome, but, something ain’t right….” A neurotransmitter called Substance P is also released by the testicles to indicate the need for pain relief.
The signals that slam into your brain like a drunk coed crashing face first into the pavement trigger the release of endorphins (our body’s natural pain relievers) but it’s a double-edged sword…
I’ll let that sink in.
The surge in endorphins triggers a drop in oxygen levels, which can lead to a pounding headache and nausea. For some men, a part of the brain called the cervical sympathetic ganglia is also activated, resulting in tearing up or crying.
The inner ear may even be affected, creating a change in fluids that results in dizziness.
On top of this shit sundae, since the abdominal area shares pain receptors with the groin, the brain is simultaneously sending signals back south to tell you (since you didn’t know already) that you’re in pain down there.
Increased heart rate, sweating and higher body temperature are other common responses to this kind of injury, which is totally understandable.
Your body basically loses its mine, in what we guess is a way of saying, “Let’s not do that again.”
“From an evolutionary perspective our bodies are designed to react very intensely to any kind of trauma in that particular anatomy,” says Mirza.
If you are unlucky enough to land yourself in such a scenario, there are a few tips and tricks to lesson, or at least shorten the duration of said pain.
Go sit on that for a while… (You can have that pun.)