Lumbar Bone Mineral Adaptation: The Effect of Fast Bowling Technique in Adolescent Cricketers

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022 Mar 1;54(3):438-446. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002820.


Introduction: Localized bone mineral density (BMD) adaptation of the lumbar spine, particularly on the contralateral side to the bowling arm, has been observed in elite male cricket fast bowlers. No study has investigated this in adolescents, or the role of fast bowling technique on lumbar BMD adaptation. This study aims to investigate lumbar BMD adaptation in adolescent cricket fast bowlers, and its relationship with fast bowling technique.

Methods: Thirty-nine adolescent fast bowlers underwent anteroposterior dual x-ray absorptiometry scan of their lumbar spine. Hip, lumbopelvic and thoracolumbar joint kinematics, and vertical ground reaction kinetics were determined using three-dimensional motion capture and force plates. Significant partial (covariate: fat-free mass) and bivariate correlations of the technique parameters with whole lumbar (L1-L4) BMD and BMD asymmetry (L3 and L4) were advanced as candidate variables for multiple stepwise linear regression.

Results: Adolescent fast bowlers demonstrated high lumbar Z-Scores (+1.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7-1.4) and significantly greater BMD on the contralateral side of L3 (9.0%; 95% CI, 5.8%-12.1%) and L4 (8.2%; 95% CI, 4.9%-11.5%). Maximum contralateral thoracolumbar rotation and maximum ipsilateral lumbopelvic rotation in the period between back foot contact and ball release (BR), as well as contralateral pelvic drop at front foot contact, were identified as predictors of L1 to L4 BMD, explaining 65% of the variation. Maximum ipsilateral lumbopelvic rotation between back foot contact and BR, as well as ipsilateral lumbopelvic rotation and contralateral thoracolumbar side flexion at BR, were predictors of lumbar asymmetry within L3 and L4.

Conclusions: Thoracolumbar and lumbopelvic motion are implicated in the etiology of the unique lumbar bone adaptation observed in fast bowlers whereas vertical ground reaction force, independent of body mass, was not. This may further implicate the osteogenic potential of torsional rather than impact loading in exercise-induced adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Cricket Sport / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*