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J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Mar 1;12(1):1-9. eCollection 2013.

Short-term free-fall landing causes reduced bone size and bending energy in femora of growing rats.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a mechanical loading course (short-term free-fall landing) on femoral geometry and biomechanical properties in growing rats. Thirty-two female Wistar rats (7-week-old) were randomly assigned to three groups: L30 (n = 11), L10 (n = 11) and CON (n = 10) groups. Animals in the L10 and L30 groups were subjected to a 5-day free-fall landing program in which animals were dropped from a height of 40cm 10 and 30 times per day, respectively. Landing ground reaction force (GRF) was measured on the 1(st) and 5(th) days of landing training. All animals were subjected to two fluorescent labeling injections on the days before and after the 5-day landing training. Three days after the last labeling injection, animals were sacrificed under deep anesthesia. Methods of dynamic histomorphometry, tissue geometry and tissue biomechanical measurements were used to investigate the response in femora. A significant decrease in peak GRF in the hind-limb was shown from day 1 to day 5. No significant difference was shown among groups in dynamic histomorphometry. Biomechanical property analyses showed significantly lower maximal energy and post-yield energy in the L10 and L30 groups as compared to the CON group (p < 0.05). Moreover, geometric measurements revealed that cross-sectional cortical areas and thicknesses were significantly lower in landing groups than in the CON group. Short-term (5-day) free-fall landing training resulted in minor compromised long bone tissue, as shown by reduced bending energy and cortical bone area but not in other mechanical properties or tissue measurements (e.g. weights and length) of growing female rats. Further studies would be valuable to investigate whether this compromised bone material represents the existence of a latency period in the adaptation of bone material to external mechanical loading. Key pointsShort-term free-fall landing causes compromised bone material as shown by reduced post-yield energy in long bones of rodents.The results of the current study suggest the existence of unsettled bone material after a short-term mechanical loading regime.The connection of the present animal study to the stress fractures occurring in young athletes needs to be clarified.


Bone; animal model; biomechanical properties; mechanical load; post-yield energy


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