Tibial Bone Strength is Enhanced in the Jump Leg of Collegiate-Level Jumping Athletes: A Within-Subject Controlled Cross-Sectional Study Academic Article uri icon


  • An efficient method of studying skeletal adaptation to mechanical loading is to assess side-to-side differences (i.e., asymmetry) within individuals who unilaterally exercise one side of the body. Within-subject controlled study designs have been used to explore skeletal mechanoadaptation at upper extremity sites; however, there is no established model in the lower extremities. The current study assessed tibial diaphysis and distal tibia asymmetry in collegiate-level jumping athletes (N = 12). To account for normal crossed asymmetry, data in jumping athletes were compared to asymmetry in a cohort of athletic controls not routinely exposed to elevated unilateral lower extremity loading (N = 11). Jumpers exhibited side-to-side differences between their jump and lead legs at both the tibial diaphysis and distal tibia, with differences at the former site persisting following comparison to dominant-to-nondominant leg differences in controls. In particular, jump-to-lead leg differences for cortical area and thickness at the tibial diaphysis in jumpers were 3.6% (95% CI 0.5-6.8%) and 3.5% (95% CI 0.4-6.6%) greater than dominant-to-nondominant differences in controls, respectively (all p < 0.05). Similarly, jump-to-lead leg differences in jumpers for tibial diaphysis maximum second moment of area and polar moment of inertia were 7.2% (95% CI 1.2-13.2%) and 5.7% (95% CI 1.7-9.8%) greater than dominant-to-nondominant differences in controls, respectively (all p < 0.05). Assessment of region-specific differences of the tibial diaphysis in jumpers indicated that the jump leg had greater pericortical radii on the medial and posterior sides and greater radial cortical thickness posteromedially when compared to the lead leg. These data suggest that athletes who perform repetitive and forceful unilateral jumping may be a useful and efficient within-subject controlled model for studying lower extremity skeletal mechanoadaptation.

publication date

  • 2016