The effect of a segmental, localized lower limb cooling protocol on muscular strength and balance
Montgomery, Roger Edward
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The human neuromuscular system is susceptible to changes within the thermal environment. Cold extrinsic temperatures can significantly reduce muscle and nervous system function and communication, which can have consequences for motor performance. A repeated measures design protocol exposed participants to a 12°C cold water immersion (CWI) up to the ankle, knee, and hip to determine the effect that reduced skin and muscle temperature had on balance and strength task execution. Although a linear reduction in the ability to perform balance tasks was seen from the control condition through to the hip CWI, results from the study indicated a significant reduction in dynamic balance (Star Excursion Balance Test reach distance) performance from only the hip CWI (P<0.05). This reduced performance could have been due to an increase in joint stiffness, increased agonist-antagonist co-contraction, and/or reduced isokinetic muscular strength. Reduced physical performance due to cold temperature could negatively impact outdoor recreational athletics.