Bone mineral density and RED-S among young cyclists – a cross sectional study
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Purpose Cycling is a high energy demanding and weight-sensitive sport, with little or no weight-bearing load on the skeleton. Thus, cyclists are at risk of developing low bone mineral density (BMD), and at a high risk of developing low energy availability (LEA). However, little is known about BMD and relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) in young male cyclists. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate BMD and symptoms of RED-S in well-trained adolescent male cyclists. Methods In total, 18 well-trained adolescent male cyclists (age 16.3 ± 0.7) and 11 age-matched nonathlete controls(16.6 ± 1.0) were recruited to this cross-sectionalstudy. The cyclists were tested at three different time points over a 1-year period (at off-season, post-season and pre-season), and the controls were tested only once. Lumbar spine BMD was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and RED-S was measured with the questionnaire “low energy availability among males- questionnaire” (LEAM-Q). Results At pre-season, 50 % of the included cyclists had Z-scores in the osteopenic range (< - 1), compared to 73% post-season and 50 % at off-season. Additionally, in the subgroup questions about dizziness in LEAM-Q, more than half of the cyclists responded that they felt dizzy at times. The result showed no significant change in BMD throughout one year, off-season to preseason (Jan 2020- April 2021) within the cyclists (p > 0.05). However, a significant increase in BMD from post-season to pre-season were observed (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in lumbar spine BMD Z-score between the cyclists and the controls (L1-L4: - 0.578 ± 0.703 vs - 0.327 ± 0.889, p = 0.407). Conclusion Adolescent cyclists had low BMD during a 1-year period, with 50 %, 73 % and 50 % of the participants qualifying to osteopenia at pre-season, post-season and off-season, respectively. However, cyclists did not have a lower BMD compared to controls.