Pain of Olympic Proportions
Pain of Olympic Proportions
Pain of Olympic Proportions

Pain of Olympic Proportions

How do Olympic-level athletes keep competing despite multiple injuries? The way they can truly heal their body might be the opposite of what you think.

Last Updated: June 22, 2022
Contributor: Meghann Shantz

Explored in this episode

  • One woman’s journey from Olympic snowboarding to Traditional Chinese Medicine School
  • The connection between mind and body, and how that relates to experiences of pain
  • What it takes to “push” through pain to reach the podium
  • The difference between physical and mental pain
  • How acupuncture works to support the body
  • The Chinese medicine approach to applying cold and heat to injury

Voices in the conversation


Dominique Vallée

Former Olympic Snowboarder, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Kiara LeBlanc

We all play hard, work hard—and we also need to heal hard.

Born in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Dominique Vallée grew up playing in the snow. At age 15 she discovered her passion for snowboarding and by 18 she moved to Whistler, Canada to pursue her dream of becoming a professional snowboarder. She competed for over a decade as part of the Canada Snowboard Team in both halfpipe and snowboard-cross. She represented Canada at the 2006 Torino Olympics in both disciplines.

Through injuries, she started utilizing the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine to help her body and mind recover faster. After her mother’s battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009, she discovered a new passion for medicine that she knew she had to follow. She went back to school for seven years and completed her doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dr. Dominique Vallée now practices in both Vancouver and Whistler, with a strong focus on women’s health and sports medicine.

She uses acupuncture, cupping, scraping, personalized herbal medicine, food as medicine and Prolozone injections as part of her treatment tools.


Dr. Kenneth Craig

UBC Pain Research Lab, Psychology Department

Dr. Ashley Riskin

You don't get paid if you're in pain, so professional athletes will often persist in their efforts even though they're in pain.

Kenneth Craig, O.C., Ph.D., LL.D. (Hon.) is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Following studies at Sir George Williams College, UBC, Purdue University and the Oregon Health Sciences University, he has had a long academic career at UBC.

In this episode, he shares some ideas on how high-performance athletes are able to withstand the pain of their training to make it to the podium, and the difference between pain threshold and pain tolerance.

His research focuses upon psychosocial factors in understanding and controlling pain, described in the social communication model of pain, and pain assessment using nonverbal methods, focusing upon infants, young children, people with intellectual disabilities and cognitive impairments.

He served as Editor-in-Chief of Pain Research & Management and the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. He has served as President of the Canadian Psychological Association and the Canadian Pain Society and on the Council of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Awards include the Canada Council I.W. Killam Research Fellowship, appointment as a CIHR Senior Investigator, the Canadian Psychological Association Donald O. Hebb Award, the American Pain Society Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain Relief, an LL.D. (Hon.) from Dalhousie University and appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Meghann Shantz, The Host of Well Now
Meghann Shantz
The Host of Well Now

Managing Editor at Saje Natural Wellness, Meghann Shantz brings her personal story of healing and a love of storytelling to Well Now – a podcast born out of a desire to help us all discover the hidden side of health and how to achieve wellness. She draws from her experiences navigating western and alternative medicine to heal her anxiety and physical injury to connect with guests about their own stories of overcoming physical and emotional challenges.

Naturally curious and on a quest for meaning, Meghann holds space for the raw expression and authentic stories of her podcast guests, believing that our world would be better if we chose to honour other people’s journeys and processes without judgement – and believing in the power of telling your story.