Structural Strength Benefits Observed at the Hip of Premenarcheal Gymnasts Are Maintained Into Young Adulthood 10 Years After Retirement From the Sport

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: Premenarcheal female gymnasts have been consistently found to have greater bone mass and structural advantages. However, little is known about whether these structural advantages are maintained after the loading stimulus is removed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the structural properties at the hip after long-term retirement from gymnastics. Methods: Structural properties were derived from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans using the hip structural analysis program for the same 24 gymnasts and 21 nongymnasts both in adolescence (8–15 y) and adulthood (22–30 y). Structural measures were obtained at the narrow neck, intertrochanter, and femoral shaft and included cross-sectional area, section modulus, and buckling ratio. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to assess differences between groups in bone measures while controlling for size, age, maturity, and physical activity. Results: Gymnasts were found to have structural advantages at the narrow neck in adolescence (16% greater cross-sectional area, 17% greater section modulus, and 25% lower buckling ratio) and 14 years later (13% greater cross-sectional area and 26% lower buckling ratio). Benefits were also found at the intertrochanter and femoral shaft sites in adolescence and adulthood. Conclusion: Ten years after retirement from gymnastics, former gymnasts’ maintained significantly better hip bone structure than females who did not participate in gymnastics during growth.

Erlandson, Runalls, Jackowski, Faulkner, and Baxter-Jones are with the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Marta C. Erlandson at marta.erlandson@usask.ca.
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