Heating the Skin Over the Knee Improves Kinesthesia During Knee Extension

in Motor Control

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Meghan LamersDepartment of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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Erika E. HoweDepartment of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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Geoffrey A. PowerDepartment of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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Leah R. BentDepartment of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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To determine how heating affects dynamic joint position sense at the knee, participants (n = 11; F = 6) were seated in a HUMAC NORM dynamometer. The leg was passively moved through extension and flexion, and participants indicated when the 90° reference position was perceived, both at baseline (28.74 ± 2.43 °C) and heated (38.05 ± 0.16 °C) skin temperatures. Day 2 of testing reduced knee skin feedback with lidocaine. Directional error (actual leg angle–target angle) and absolute error (AE) were calculated. Heating reduced extension AE (baseline AE = 5.46 ± 2.39°, heat AE = 4.10 ± 1.97°), but not flexion. Lidocaine did not significantly affect flexion AE or extension AE. Overall, increased anterior knee-skin temperature improves dynamic joint position sense during passive knee extension, where baseline matching is poorer. Limited application of lidocaine to the anterior thigh, reducing some skin input, did not influence dynamic joint position sense, suggesting cutaneous receptors may play only a secondary role to spindle information during kinesthetic tasks. Importantly, cutaneous input from adjacent thigh regions cannot be ruled out as a contributor.

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