The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

The relationship between intensity of physical activity and musculoskeletal stress markers on the lower limb


1Animal Biology, University of Barcelona, 2Biology, University of Oulu

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This study focus on the effects of age, body size (as femoral length and femoral head superoinferior height) and intensity of physical activity on selected musculoskeletal markers (MSMs) of the femur. Skeletal collection representing 20th century Finns (Helsinki) with known age, sex and occupation was used in this study. Due to small number of female individuals analyses were performed using male data only. Based on the intensity of reported occupation the material was divided into heavy (N=17) and light (N=6) activity groups. Femoral entheses exhibiting most variation in the ruggedness scores were selected as activity indicators. These were the fibrous insertions of gluteus maximus and adductor brevis and the fibrous origins of quadratus femoris, gastrocnemius and vastus lateralis. These obtained scores were recoded into binary variables. The effects of size and age on MSM were studied using ANOVA. As heavy and light labor groups were found to be similar in age and size, differences in MSMs between the activity groups were tested using Fisher’s exact test. Left and right sides were analyzed separately. The intensity of physical activity was found not to reflect in the lower limb MSMs. Surprisingly also size did not affect the appearance of MSMs. Age affected only quadratus femoris and gluteus maximus MSMs. Similar results were obtained from left and right sides. These results indicate that neither labor nor size and age account for all the variance found in these studied MSMs. However, due to small sample size these results should be considered tentative.

This study was funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation.

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