Modulation of skin sensitivity by dynamic and isometric exercise in man

  • Pekka Paalasmaa
  • Pentti Kemppainen
  • Antti Pertovaara


The effect of dynamic cycle ergometer exercise and isometric leg exercise on skin sensitivity was studied in man. Exercise was performed at different loads. Cutaneous sensitivity to innocuous and noxious thermal stimuli was tested using a contact thermostimulator and sensitivity to tactile stimuli was tested using electrical stimuli. During isometric exercise a segmental (the exercising limb), but not a multisegmental, phasic decrease of cutaneous thermal sensitivity to innocuous stimuli was found. At the isometric forces used the effect on tactile and heat pain sensitivity was not significant. During dynamic exercise a multisegmental, load-dependent decrease of sensitivity in all tested sensory modalities was found and this attenuation disappeared gradually after the end of exercise. In contrast to isometric exercise, the decrease of sensitivity produced by dynamic exercise was most evident in tactile sensitivity. The size of the stimulus area (7.9 vs 11.8 cm2) did not have a significant effect on the magnitude of the exercise-induced decrease of cutaneous thermal sensitivity to innocuous stimuli. It was concluded that underlying the modulation of skin sensitivity by dynamic and isometric exercise were mechanisms that were different, at least to a small extent. Isometric exercise produced a segmental modulation of skin sensitivity due to central neuronal mechanisms, independent of exercise-induced stress. Exercise-induced stress could have caused the modulation of skin sensitivity by dynamic exercise.

Key words

Exercise Modulation Somatosensory system 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pekka Paalasmaa
    • 1
  • Pentti Kemppainen
    • 1
  • Antti Pertovaara
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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