Bone scans were obtained by peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (pQCT) from the tibia and from the radius in 106 sprinters, 52 middle distance runners, 93 long distance runners and 49 race-walkers who were competing at master championships, and who were aged between 35 and 94 years. Seventy-five age-matched, sedentary people served as control group. Most athletes of this study had started to practice their athletic discipline after the age of 20, but the current training regime had typically been maintained for more than a decade. As hypothesised, tibia diaphyseal bone mineral content (vBMC), cortical area and polar moment of resistance were largest in sprinters, followed in descending order by middle and long distance runners, race-walkers and controls. When compared to control people, the differences in these measures were always >13% in male and >23% in female sprinters (p<0.001). Similarly, the periosteal circumference in the tibia shaft was larger in male and female sprinters by 4% and 8%, respectively, compared to controls (p<0.001). Epiphyseal group differences were predominantly found for trabecular vBMC in both male and female sprinters, who had 15% and 18% larger values, respectively, than controls (p<0.001). In contrast, a reverse pattern was found for cortical vBMD in the tibia, and only few group differences of lower magnitude were found between athletes and control people for the radius. In conclusion, tibial bone strength indicators seemed to be related to exercise-specific peak forces, whilst cortical density was inversely related to running distance. These results may be explained in two, non-exclusive ways. Firstly, greater skeletal size may allow larger muscle forces and power to be exerted, and thus bias towards engagement in athletics. Secondly, musculoskeletal forces related to running can induce skeletal adaptation and thus enhance bone strength
This preliminary report to the Physiological Society describes research which formed part of the PhD of Tony Sargeant. It was carried out before the days of CT or MRI scanning and involves many hours of meticulous measurements from conventional X-rays and anthropometry.
Use of anthropometry and radiography for the estimation of limb (and component tissue) volume of patients recovering from leg fractures
Journal of Physiology. 1975 Jan;244(1):13P-14P
Bone mass and geometry of the tibia and the radius of master sprinters, middle and long distance runners, race-walkers and sedentary control participants: a pQCT study.
Bone. 2009 Jul;45(1):91-7
Professor Anthony J Sargeant was the Director of the Research Institute where this research initiated and driven by Professor Joern Ritttweger was carried out by Desiree Wilks (a PhD student under their joint supervision).
Age-dependency in bone mass and geometry: a pQCT study on male and female master sprinters, middle and long distance runners, race-walkers and sedentary people
Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interaction
J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2009 Oct-Dec;9(4):236-46