Context: Military personnel engage in vigorous exercise, often resulting in higher bone mineral density; however, lower leg bone injuries are common in this population. Predictors of change in tibial bone quality and strength need to be characterized in this high-risk population.
Objective: This study aimed to examine the effects of an eight-week military training intervention on total body and site-specific bone density and tibial bone quality, serum biomarkers (parathyroid hormone and sclerostin), body composition, and physical performance. Additionally, we sought to investigate what outcome variables (biomarkers, body composition, physical performance) would be predictive of estimated tibial bone strength in college-aged Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) members.
Design: Prospective Cohort Study.
Setting: XXX University. Patients of Other Participants: ROTC (n=14 male; n=4 female) were matched for sex, age, and body mass to physically active Controls (n=14 male; n=4 female). ROTC engaged in an eight-week training intervention, while physically active Controls made no changes to their exercise routines.
Main outcome measures: Pre general health questionnaires and pre, mid, and post intervention bone scans (DXA, pQCT), serum blood draws (parathyroid hormone and sclerostin), and physical performance measures (muscle strength and aerobic capacity) were tested.
Results: ROTC participants exhibited significantly increased hip bone density and content (all p≤0.03) after the eight-week intervention. Sclerostin, not PTH, was a significant positive correlate and predictor in all ROTC models for estimated bone strength at the fracture prone 38% tibial site. Both groups decreased total body and regional fat mass and ROTC increased aerobic capacity (all p≤0.05).
Conclusions: All bone, body composition, and performance measures either improved or were maintained in response to ROTC training and sclerostin should be further investigated as a potential early indicator of changes in estimated tibial bone strength in military cohorts.
Breanne S. Baker, Samuel R. Buchanan, Christopher D. Black, Michael G. Bemben, Debra A. Bemben; Bone, Biomarker, Body Composition, and Performance Responses to 8 Weeks of ROTC Training. J Athl Train 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-0634.20