Geezer sprinters rule in bone-density race vs. distance runners
Runnerâ€™s World might have to rename itself Sprinterâ€™s World at this rate. Picking up on a late 2012 study in Osteoporosis International, my favorite bedside reading, RW reports: â€śOlder sprinters have better bone density and neuromuscular functioning than older distance runners, according to â€¦ German researchers [who] examined 178 competitors at the 2006 edition of the European Masters Championships [in Poznan, Poland]. They measured bone density, lean tissue mass, and a few measures of neuromuscular functioning, or how well oneâ€™s nervous system communicates with oneâ€™s muscles, in three groups of athletes: sprinters, middle-distance runners and long-distance runners. The sprinters outperformed the other two groups on all the measures.â€ť OK, great! Now can you spin off a magazine for the dash masters? Hereâ€™s the original German study. Thanks to world champ Jim Chinn for the RW link.
RW also said:
While itâ€™s probably not news that the sprinters were better at tests like one-legged hopping and maximal grip strength, their higher bone density is notable. The sprinters had significantly higher bone density in their legs, hips, spine and trunk than the distance runners. To be sure, the distance runnersâ€™ bone density was the same or higher than average for their age, but not nearly as great as that of the sprinters.â€ť
Hereâ€™s the summary of the original report:
We examined short- (nâ€‰ =â€‰50), middle- (nâ€‰=â€‰19) and long-distance (nâ€‰=â€‰109) athletes at the 15th European Masters Championships in PoznaĹ„, Poland. Dual X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and lean tissue mass. Maximal countermovement jump, multiple one-leg hopping and maximal grip force tests were performed.
Short-distance athletes showed significantly higher aBMD at the legs, hip, lumbar spine and trunk compared to long-distance athletes (pâ€‰ â‰¤â€‰0.0012). Countermovement jump performance, hop force, grip force, leg lean mass and arm lean mass were greater in short-distance athletes (pâ€‰â‰¤â€‰0.027). A similar pattern was seen in middle-distance athletes who typically showed higher aBMD and better neuromuscular performance than long-distance athletes, but lower in magnitude than short-distance athletes. In all athletes, aBMD was the same or higher than the expected age-adjusted population mean at the lumbar spine, hip and whole body. This effect was greater in the short- and middle-distance athletes.
The stepwise relation between short-, middle- and long-distance athletes on bone suggests that the higher-impact loading protocols in short-distance disciplines are more effective in promoting aBMD. The regional effect on bone, with the differences between the groups being most marked at load-bearing regions (legs, hip, spine and trunk) rather than non-load-bearing regions, is further evidence in support of the idea that bone adaptation to exercise is dependent upon the local loading environment, rather than as part of a systemic effect.