Competitive Swimming and Handball Participation Have a Positive Influence on Bone Parameters as Assessed by Phalangeal Quantitative Ultrasound in Female Adolescents

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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To examine the influence of participation in competitive sports on bone parameters, as assessed by quantitative ultrasound (QUS) of the phalanges in female adolescents.


Female adolescents (n = 329, 13.0–16.7 years old) were classified into handball (n = 55), swimming (n = 49) and control (n = 225) groups. QUS was used to evaluate the amplitude-dependent speed of sound (AD-SoS) and bone transmission time (BTT), and their z-scores (zAD-SoS and zBTT) were calculated. Anthropometric measurements and Tanner’s stages were also obtained.


Swimmers had higher AD-SoS (2089 ± 43.8 m/s) and zAD-SoS (0.47 ± 0.8) than controls (2060 ± 54.0 m/s; 0.09 ± 1.0; both p ≤ .05) and both groups of athletes had higher BTT (handball: 1.44 ± 0.2 μs; swimming: 1.45 ± 0.2) and zBTT (handball: 0.71 ± 0.8; swimming: 0.72 ± 1.1) than the control group (1.37 ± 0.2 μs; 0.32 ± 0.9; all p ≤ .05). Swimmers had a higher total training time (TTT: 52.5 ± 27.6 months) and frequency of training per week (FT: 5.38 ± 0.1) compared with the handball group (35.9 ± 18.1; 3.32 ±0.8; p ≤ .05). zAD-SoS, BTT and zBTT were positively correlated with FT, while BTT and zBTT showed a positive correlation with TTT.


Sports practice influences bone parameters and higher bone parameter values are related to the amount of time and frequency of weekly training. The differences in phalangeal QUS parameters are independent of the impact of weight-bearing exercise.

Krahenbuhl, Gonçalves, Guimarães, and Guerra-Junior are with the Laboratory of Growth and Development, and Barros-Filho the School of Medical Science, University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.

Address author correspondence to Tathyane Krahenbuhl at