The effect of low temperatures on muscle function while wearing protective clothing used in the mining industry
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how muscle function is affected by cold environments in persons wearing cold protective clothing for the mining industry when performing work-related tasks. 15 subjects were exposed to a low temperature (-15°C) and a moderate temperature (5°C). Protective clothing was similar during both environmental conditions. The subjects performed a total of five test periods and four work periods. A test period consisted of dynamic wrist flexion and maximal voluntary contractions for wrist flexion, elbow flexion and shoulder abduction. Work periods consisted of three tasks; 1) arms above head, 2) arms at hip height and 3) lifting dumbbells of the floor and onto a case. Cold exposure led to lower skin temperatures and higher muscle activity in the wrist flexors during the work period compared to 5°C. In addition, we observed a reduced amount of local oxygenation in the wrist flexors in the cold. In conclusion, cold exposure reduced skin temperatures, which further led to minor negative effect on muscle function.