Creatine boosts protective effect of resistance training on bone mass
Especially women, but men too, start to lose a little bone mass each year after the age of forty. The pace at which bone breaks down increases with age. Strength training can slow the process down. And using creatine as well can help even more, sports scientists at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada discovered.
The researchers did an experiment with two groups of eighteen post-menopausal women. Their average age was 57.
The women trained three times a week in a gym, training their biggest muscle groups by doing basic exercises like hack squats, hamstrings curls, back extensions, bench press, lat pull-downs and shoulder press. The women did 3 sets of 10 reps for each exercise, with a maximal load of 80 percent of the weight with which they could just manage 1 rep.
One group were given creatine, in a dose of 0.1 g per kg bodyweight per day. The other group was given a placebo.
Before the experiment started and after the women had trained for a year, the researchers did scans to measure the subjects' bone density.
The decrease in bone mass in the neck of the femur of the women in the creatine group almost came to a halt. In the women who had not taken creatine the bone breakdown continued. This is a relevant finding because people with osteoporosis often break the femoral neck when they injure their hip. Healing is often slow or doesn't take place.
The effect of bone decay in the femoral neck was the only statistically significant effect on the skeleton that the Canadians found. That's disappointing, as were other effects that the researchers recorded. The increase in muscle strength was modest in all women, and women in both groups lost lean body mass.
Training three times a week for a year and lean body mass lost? The women can't have been training very hard.
It might just be the case that the positive effect of strength training on bone mass –with or without creatine – is greater than this study suggests.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Nov 10. [Epub ahead of print].
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