Load-Bearing Sports and Osteoporosis

While contact sports have long been associated with back problems, research suggests that load-bearing sports may have positive benefits for young men. A study focusing on younger men (18-20) found that regular participation in load-bearing sports like volleyball and basketball increased bone mass compared to their sedentary counterparts, possibly reducing the odds of developing osteoporosis later in life.

As a leading Santa Monica spine surgery center, we wanted to share some information about how load-bearing exercises can benefit young men both now and in the future.

  • Adding Bone Mass

    Osteoporosis is a progressive condition, typically affecting people later in life, where bones become brittle and fragile and more susceptible to injuries. Developing larger bones, or increased bone mass, can provide added protection against osteoporosis, which can start to develop with tissue loss in the mid-twenties.

  • Benefits of Added Stress On Bones

    While putting added stress on bones sounds counterproductive, it can actually cause more bone tissue to develop to absorb the extra stress. Research suggests that any activities involving jumping or fast starts and stops can put a safe level of stress on bones when proper technique is followed.

  • Maintaining or Increasing Load-Bearing Activities

    The study involving young men found that participates who increased their load-bearing activities over the five-year duration of the study were more likely to add bone mass than participants who were fairly inactive. The study also suggests that young men who started off highly active in load-bearing sports and decreased their level of participation were less likely to add significant bone mass.

Previous studies suggest both men and women may benefit from increased bone mass. It should be noted that any type of regular exercise, even if it’s not a load-bearing activity, can have other positive health benefits. Research involving load-bearing sports provides evidence that participating in a variety of sports at a younger age and into early adulthood may help offset effects associated with osteoporosis later in life by providing an added layer of protection.

Interested in learning more about bone strength and spine health? Reach out to the Santa Monica board-certified orthopedic surgeons at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Along with a team of highly qualified and professional surgeons, we have a talented diagnostic team that can help to properly diagnosis any back or neck pain you may be experiencing. Call us today at 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.