Archives of Osteoporosis

, 13:57 | Cite as

Bone geometry in young male and female football players: a peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) study

  • Gabriel Lozano-Berges
  • Ángel Matute-Llorente
  • Alejandro Gómez-Bruton
  • Alex González-Agüero
  • Germán Vicente-Rodríguez
  • José A. CasajúsEmail author
Original Article



The present study shows that football practice during growth may improve bone geometry in male and female football players. However, only females had better bone strength in comparison with controls.


The aim of this study was to compare bone geometry in adolescent football players and controls.


A total of 107 football players (71 males/36 females; mean age 12.7 ± 0.6/12.7 ± 0.6 years) and 42 controls (20 males/22 females; mean age 13.1 ± 1.4/12.7 ± 1.3 years) participated in this study. Total and trabecular volumetric bone mineral content (Tt.BMC/Tb.BMC), cross-sectional area (Tt.Ar/Tb.Ar), and bone strength index (BSI) were measured at 4% site of the non-dominant tibia by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Moreover, Tt.BMC, cortical BMC (Ct.BMC), Tt.Ar, cortical Ar (Ct.Ar), cortical thickness (Ct.Th), periosteal circumference (PC), endosteal circumference (EC), fracture load in X-axis, and polar strength strain index (SSIp) were measured at 38% site of the tibia. Multivariate analyses of covariance were used to compare bone pQCT variables between football players and controls using the tibia length and maturity offset as covariates.


Female football players demonstrated 13.8–16.4% higher BSI, Ct.Th, fracture load in X-axis, and SSIp than controls (p < .0036). Males showed no significant differences in bone strength when compared to controls (p > .0036). In relation to bone mineral content and area, male football players showed 8.8% higher Tt.Ar and Tb.Ar at the 4% site of the tibia when compared to controls; whereas 13.8–15.8% higher Tt.BMC, Ct.BMC, and Ct.Ar at the 38% site of the tibia were found in female football players than controls (p < .0036).


In this study, female adolescent football players presented better bone geometry and strength values than controls. In contrast, only bone geometry was higher in male football players than controls.


Soccer Body composition Bone health Youth 



The authors want to thank all the children, their parents, and football clubs (Real Zaragoza S.A.D.; Los Molinos U.D.; C.D. Marianistas; C.D. Transportes Alcaine and S.D. Ejea) that participated in the study for their understanding and dedication to the project. The authors also thank Adam Bracey for his work reviewing the English style and grammar.

Funding information

This work was supported by the Spanish “Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad” (Project DEP 2012-32724)’. GLB received a grant FPU 2013 (FPU13/02111) from the “Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte”. AML received a grant (AP2012/02854) from the “Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte”. AGB received a grant FPI 2012 (BES-2012-051888) from the “Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest


Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11657_2018_472_MOESM1_ESM.docx (56 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 56 kb)
11657_2018_472_MOESM2_ESM.docx (38 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 29 kb)


  1. 1.
    Pocock NA, Eisman JA, Hopper JL, Yeates MG, Sambrook PN, Eberl S (1987) Genetic determinants of bone mass in adults. A twin study. J Clin Invest 80:706–710. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Frost HM (1987) Bone “mass” and the “mechanostat”: a proposal. Anat Rec 219:1–9. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nikander R, Sievanen H, Heinonen A, Daly RM, Uusi-Rasi K, Kannus P (2010) Targeted exercise against osteoporosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis for optimising bone strength throughout life. BMC Med 8(47).
  4. 4.
    Falk B, Braid S, Moore M, Yao M, Sullivan P, Klentrou N (2010) Bone properties in child and adolescent male hockey and soccer players. J Sci Med Sport 13:387–391. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pettersson U, Nordstrom P, Alfredson H, Henriksson-Larsen K, Lorentzon R (2000) Effect of high impact activity on bone mass and size in adolescent females: a comparative study between two different types of sports. Calcif Tissue Int 67:207–214. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ubago-Guisado E, Gomez-Cabello A, Sanchez-Sanchez J, Garcia-Unanue J, Gallardo L (2015) Influence of different sports on bone mass in growing girls. J Sports Sci 33:1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tenforde AS, Fredericson M (2011) Influence of sports participation on bone health in the young athlete: a review of the literature. Pm R 3:861–867. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ferry B, Lespessailles E, Rochcongar P, Duclos M, Courteix D (2013) Bone health during late adolescence: effects of an 8-month training program on bone geometry in female athletes. Joint Bone Spine 80:57–63. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zouch M, Zribi A, Alexandre C, Chaari H, Frere D, Tabka Z, Vico L (2015) Soccer increases bone mass in prepubescent boys during growth: a 3-yr longitudinal study. J Clin Densitom 18:179–186. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Soderman K, Bergstrom E, Lorentzon R, Alfredson H (2000) Bone mass and muscle strength in young female soccer players. Calcif Tissue Int 67:297–303. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Vicente-Rodriguez G, Ara I, Perez-Gomez J, Serrano-Sanchez JA, Dorado C, Calbet JA (2004) High femoral bone mineral density accretion in prepubertal soccer players. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36:1789–1795. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lozano-Berges G, Matute-Llorente Á, González-Agüero A, Gómez-Bruton A, Gómez-Cabello A, Vicente-Rodríguez G, Casajús JA (2017) Soccer helps build strong bones during growth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Pediatr 177:295–310. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sievanen H (2000) A physical model for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-derived bone mineral density. Investig Radiol 35:325–330. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Warden SJ, Fuchs RK (2009) Exercise and bone health: optimising bone structure during growth is key, but all is not in vain during ageing. Br J Sports Med 43:885–887. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Anliker E, Sonderegger A, Toigo M (2013) Side-to-side differences in the lower leg muscle-bone unit in male soccer players. Med Sci Sports Exerc 45:1545–1552. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Varley I, Hughes DC, Greeves JP, Fraser WD, Sale C (2017) Increased training volume improves bone density and cortical area in adolescent football players. Int J Sports Med 38:341–346. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vlachopoulos D, Barker AR, Williams CA, Arngrimsson SA, Knapp KM, Metcalf BS, Fatouros IG, Moreno LA, Gracia-Marco L (2016) The impact of sport participation on bone mass and geometry in adolescent males. Med Sci Sports Exerc 47:317–326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ferry B, Duclos M, Burt L, Therre P, Le Gall F, Jaffre C, Courteix D (2011) Bone geometry and strength adaptations to physical constraints inherent in different sports: comparison between elite female soccer players and swimmers. J Bone Miner Metab 29:342–351. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Beck TJ (2007) Extending DXA beyond bone mineral density: understanding hip structure analysis. Curr Osteoporos Rep 5:49–55. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Crabtree NJ, Arabi A, Bachrach LK, Fewtrell M, El-Hajj Fuleihan G, Kecskemethy HH, Jaworski M, Gordon CM (2014) Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry interpretation and reporting in children and adolescents: the revised 2013 ISCD Pediatric Official Positions. J Clin Densitom 17:225–242. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Weidauer L, Minett M, Negus C, Binkley T, Vukovich M, Wey H, Specker B (2014) Odd-impact loading results in increased cortical area and moments of inertia in collegiate athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol 114:1429–1438. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nilsson M, Ohlsson C, Mellstrom D, Lorentzon M (2013) Sport-specific association between exercise loading and the density, geometry, and microstructure of weight-bearing bone in young adult men. Osteoporos Int 24:1613–1622. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nikander R, Sievanen H, Uusi-Rasi K, Heinonen A, Kannus P (2006) Loading modalities and bone structures at nonweight-bearing upper extremity and weight-bearing lower extremity: a pQCT study of adult female athletes. Bone 39:886–894. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vandenbroucke JP, von Elm E, Altman DG, Gøtzsche PC, Mulrow CD, Pocock SJ, Poole C, Schlesselman JJ, Egger M, Initiative S (2007) Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med 4:e297. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Moore SA, McKay HA, Macdonald H, Nettlefold L, Baxter-Jones AD, Cameron N, Brasher PM (2015) Enhancing a somatic maturity prediction model. Med Sci Sports Exerc 47:1755–1764. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Julian Almarcegui C, Huybrechts I, Gomez Bruton A, Matute Llorente A, Gonzalez Aguero A, Gomez Cabello A, Moreno LA, Casajus JA, Vicente Rodriguez G (2015) Validity of a food-frequency questionnaire for estimating calcium intake in adolescent swimmers. Nutr Hosp 32:1773–1779. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Barr SI (1994) Associations of social and demographic variables with calcium intakes of high school students. J Am Diet Assoc 94(260–266):269; quiz 267-268–269. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gomez-Bruton A, Gonzalez-Aguero A, Casajus JA, Vicente-Rodriguez G (2014) Swimming training repercussion on metabolic and structural bone development; benefits of the incorporation of whole body vibration or pilometric training; the RENACIMIENTO project. Nutr Hosp 30:399–409. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hoffman M, Schrader J, Applegate T, Koceja D (1998) Unilateral postural control of the functionally dominant and nondominant extremities of healthy subjects. J Athl Train 33:319–322PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Adams JE, Engelke K, Zemel BS, Ward KA, Densitometry ISC (2014) Quantitative computer tomography in children and adolescents: the 2013 ISCD Pediatric Official Positions. J Clin Densitom 17:258–274. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Binkley TL, Specker BL, Wittig TA (2002) Centile curves for bone densitometry measurements in healthy males and females ages 5-22 yr. J Clin Densitom 5:343–353. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ingle BM, Hay SM, Bottjer HM, Eastell R (1999) Changes in bone mass and bone turnover following ankle fracture. Osteoporos Int 10:408–415. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Schneider DL (2011) The complete book of bone health. Prometheus Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Seeman E (2002) An exercise in geometry. J Bone Miner Res 17:373–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bass SL, Saxon L, Daly RM, Turner CH, Robling AG, Seeman E, Stuckey S (2002) The effect of mechanical loading on the size and shape of bone in pre-, peri-, and postpubertal girls: a study in tennis players. J Bone Miner Res 17:2274–2280. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Daly RM (2007) The effect of exercise on bone mass and structural geometry during growth. Med Sport Sci 51:33–49. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Orwoll ES (2003) Toward an expanded understanding of the role of the periosteum in skeletal health. J Bone Miner Res 18:949–954. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bailey DA, McKay HA, Mirwald RL, Crocker PR, Faulkner RA (1999) A six-year longitudinal study of the relationship of physical activity to bone mineral accrual in growing children: the university of Saskatchewan bone mineral accrual study. J Bone Miner Res 14:1672–1679. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Lozano-Berges
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ángel Matute-Llorente
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Alejandro Gómez-Bruton
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Alex González-Agüero
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Germán Vicente-Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • José A. Casajús
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.GENUD (Growth, Exercise, NUtrition and Development) Research GroupUniversidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Sport Science (FCSD), Department of Physiatry and NursingUniversidad de ZaragozaHuescaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón-IA2-(Universidad de Zaragoza -CITA)ZaragozaSpain
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERObn)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Universidad Isabel IBurgosSpain
  6. 6.Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Physiatry and NursingUniversidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations