Bone adaptation to competitive collegiate-level cheer

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Young, Kaelin C.
Roberts, Devin
Walton, Nicholas G.
Kendall, Kristina L.
Patterson, Jeremy A.
Rogers, Michael E.
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Although not officially recognized by the NCAA as a sport, collegiate cheerleading has become extremely competitive over the last decade, requiring a high-level of physical fitness in order to perform gymnastic-like maneuvers and in tossing and supporting the over-head weight of other team members. To date, only one study has characterized physiological outcomes in competitive collegiate-level male cheerleaders, and none have reported on adaptations in bone mineral density.PURPOSE: To compare areal bone mineral density (aBMD) of the hip and lumbar spine between male competitive collegiate-level cheerleaders and age, height, and weight-matched recreationally resistance-trained male controls.METHODS: Thirteen male competitive collegiate-level cheerleaders (mean ± SD, age: 22.7 ± 2.1 yrs, height: 1.81 ± 0.07 m, weight: 88.8 ± 10.9 kg) and 13 age, height, and weight-matched (age: 22.2 ± 2.0 yrs, height: 1.81 ± 0.06 m, weight: 87.5 ± 10.6 kg) recreationally resistance-trained male controls (CON) underwent a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan for assessment of aBMD of the non-dominant proximal femur (total hip, femoral neck, and trochanter) and lumbar spine (L1-L4) as well as percent body fat (%BF), bone free lean body mass (BFLM), and appendicular lean mass (aLM).RESULTS: According to design, there were no differences in age, height, or weight between groups. On average, cheerleaders trained (resistance + cheer) 5.0 ± 0.9 days per week whereas CON trained (resistance only) 3.5 ± 0.7 days per week. Compared to CON, cheerleaders had significantly lower %BF (13.8 ± 4.8 vs. 19.2 ± 4.2 %, p=0.005) and higher BFLM (73.1± 6.7 vs. 66.8 ± 7.9 kg, p= 0.04) and aLM (34.1 ± 3.4 vs. 29.9 ± 4.6 kg, p= 0.013). Similarly, cheerleaders had significantly higher aBMD of the total hip (1.210 ± 0.096 vs. 1.109 ± 0.107 g/cm2, p=0.031), trochanter (0.890 ± 0.074 vs. 0.0811 ± 0.074 g/cm2, p=0.013), and lumbar spine (1.198 ± 0.136 vs. 1.087 ± 0.119 g/cm2, p=0.013).CONCLUSION: The additional exposure of cheer-specific training, versus resistance training alone, seems to confer greater benefit to clinically relevant bone sites with regard to aBMD.

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Young, Kaelin C.; Roberts, Devin; Walton, Nick G.; Kendall, Kristina L.; Patterson, Jeremy A.; Rogers, Michael E. 2014. Bone adaptation to competitive collegiate-level cheer. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 46:no. 5:pp 38-38
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
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