, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 1321-1328
Date: 11 Nov 2008

Targeted exercises against hip fragility

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Compared to high-impact exercises, moderate-magnitude impacts from odd-loading directions have similar ability to thicken vulnerable cortical regions of the femoral neck. Since odd-impact exercises are mechanically less demanding to the body, this type of exercise can provide a reasonable basis for devising feasible, targeted bone training against hip fragility.


Regional cortical thinning at the femoral neck is associated with hip fragility. Here, we investigated whether exercises involving high-magnitude impacts, moderate-magnitude impacts from odd directions, high-magnitude muscle forces, low-magnitude impacts at high repetition rate, or non-impact muscle forces at high repetition rate were associated with thicker femoral neck cortex.


Using three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging, we scanned the proximal femur of 91 female athletes, representing the above-mentioned five exercise-loadings, and 20 referents. Cortical thickness at the inferior, anterior, superior, and posterior regions of the femoral neck was evaluated. Between-group differences were analyzed with ANCOVA.


For the inferior cortical thickness, only the high-impact group differed significantly (~60%, p = 0.012) from the reference group, while for the anterior cortex, both the high-impact and odd-impact groups differed (~20%, p = 0.042 and p = 0.044, respectively). Also, the posterior cortex was ~20% thicker (p = 0.014 and p = 0.006, respectively) in these two groups.


Odd-impact exercise-loading was associated, similar to high-impact exercise-loading, with ~20% thicker cortex around the femoral neck. Since odd-impact exercises are mechanically less demanding to the body than high-impact exercises, it is argued that this type of bone training would offer a feasible basis for targeted exercise-based prevention of hip fragility.