Soccer helps build strong bones during growth: a systematic review and meta-analysis
The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of soccer practice on bone in male and female children and adolescents. MEDLINE, PubMed, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science databases were searched for scientific articles published up to and including October 2016. Twenty-seven studies were included in this systematic review (13 in the meta-analysis). The meta-analysis was performed by using OpenMeta[Analyst] software. It is well documented that soccer practice during childhood provides positive effects on bone mineral content (BMC) and density (BMD) compared to sedentary behaviors and other sports, such as tennis, weightlifting, or swimming. Furthermore, soccer players present higher BMC and BMD in most weight-bearing sites such as the whole body, lumbar spine, hip, and legs. Moreover, bone differences were minimized between groups during prepuberty. Therefore, the maturity status should be considered when evaluating bone. According to meta-analysis results, soccer practice was positively associated with whole-body BMD either in males (mean difference 0.061; 95%CI, 0.042–0.079) or in females (mean difference 0.063; 95%CI, 0.026–0.099).
What is known:
• It has been described that childhood and adolescence are important periods for bone mass and structure.
• Previous studies have demonstrated that soccer participation improves bone mass in male and female children and adolescents.
What is new:
• The differences between soccer players and controls are more marked during puberty than prepuberty.
• Weight-bearing sites such as lumbar spine, hip, femoral neck, trochanter, intertrochanteric region and both legs are particularly sensitive to soccer actions.
KeywordsFootball Sports Bone mass Bone tissue
Bone mineral content
Bone mineral density
Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
Peripheral quantitative computed tomography
Quantitative ultrasound system
Single photon absorptiometry
World Health Organization
All the authors have been actively involved in the planning and enactment of the study. JAC and GVR were the main researchers in the present study, and GLB was the first author. AML, AGA, AGB, and AGC were co-researchers. GLB and AML independently evaluated all studies, and AGA resolved inter-reviewer disagreements. GLB drafted the document, and AML, AGA, AGB, AGC, GVR and JAC critically reviewed the document. All authors have read and approved of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.
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