Brammer, C. L., Koceja, D. M., & Stager, J. M. (2010). Shaving and perceptual sensory threshold. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study attempted to quantify sensory perception before and after shaving. Before shaving, sensory perception threshold force was identified in neurologically normal men (N = 10). Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments were applied perpendicular and in triplicate to a 1 sq-cm of skin area overlaying the gastrocnemius, and a single verbal response of "yes" was sufficient to qualify as positive perception. The mean of four alternating ascending and descending threshold tests were used to establish a perceptual threshold force for each condition. All perceptual tests were performed with no visual input from the S. These procedures were performed for each of the randomized conditions of no-wind and wind. After the pre-shave trial, both legs were completely shaved between transverse planes at the lowest point of the torso and the lateral malleolus. Sensory threshold procedures were repeated 24 hours post-shave. A thermistor was used to measure calf skin temperature for each experimental condition.

A significant two-way interaction between treatments of shave and wind was revealed. Pre-shave sensory threshold force was significantly greater with wind than that without wind. However, post-shave sensory threshold force was not significantly different with or without wind. Without wind, sensory threshold force before and after shaving did not differ. However, in the presence of wind, pre-shave sensory threshold force was significantly greater than post-shave. Skin temperature was not different from pre- to post-shave.

Implication. Shaving hair off the legs did not result in altered sensory perception. However, under a windy condition, shaving resulted in an improved ability to perceive a cutaneous stimulus, with skin temperature being constant. Therefore, when subjected to windy conditions, hairy skin may attenuate sensory perception. [Demonstrating this in athletic performance is required to suggest this is an important factor.]

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