Increased Leg Bone Mineral Density and Content During the Initial Years of College Sport

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Scerpella, JJ, Buehring, B, Hetzel, SJ, and Heiderscheit, BC. Increased leg bone mineral density and content during the initial years of college sport. J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1123–1130, 2018—Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) data are useful parameters for evaluating how training practices promote bone health. We used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to longitudinally assess sport-specific growth in leg and total body BMD/BMC over the initial 2 years of collegiate training. Eighty-five Division 1 collegiate basketball, hockey, and soccer athletes (50 males and 35 females; age 19.0 [0.8] years) underwent annual DXA scans. Leg and total body BMD/BMC were compared within and across two 1-year intervals (periods 1 and 2) using repeated-measures analysis of variance, adjusting for age, sex, race, and sport. Leg BMD, leg BMC, and total body BMC all increased over period 1 (0.05 g·cm−2 [p = 0.001], 0.07 kg [p = 0.002], and 0.19 kg [p < 0.001] respectively). Changes in period 2 compared with period 1 were smaller for leg BMD (p = 0.001), leg BMC (p < 0.001), leg fat mass (p = 0.028), and total BMC (p = 0.005). Leg lean mass increased more during period 2 than period 1 (p = 0.018). Sports participation was the only significant predictor of change in leg BMD. Significant increases in both leg BMD and BMC were demonstrated over both 2-year periods, with greater gains during period 1. These gains highlight the importance of attentive training procedures, capitalizing on attendant physical benefits of increased BMD/BMC. Additional research in young adults, evaluating bone mass acquisition, will optimize performance and decrease risk of bone stress injury among collegiate athletes.

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