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Blood Flow Restriction Training in Tendinopathy Rehabilitation

An Underutilised Alternative to Traditional Heavy-load Resistance Training for Enhancing Outcomes


  • Ian Burton NHS



Tendinopathy, Blood flow restriction, Resistance training, Musculoskeletal, Rehabilitation


Tendinopathy is a chronic tendon disease which can cause significant pain and functional limitations for individuals and collectively places a tremendous burden on society. Resistance training has long been considered the treatment of choice in the rehabilitation of chronic tendinopathies, with both eccentric and heavy slow resistance training demonstrating positive clinical effects. The application of progressive tendon loads during rehabilitation is essential to not compromise tendon healing, with the precise dosage parameters of resistance training and external loading a critical consideration. Blood-flow restriction training (BFRT) has become an increasingly popular method of resistance training in recent years and has been shown to be an effective method for enhancing muscle strength and hypertrophy in healthy populations and in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Traditional resistance training for tendinopathy requires the application of heavy training loads, whereas BFRT utilises significantly lower loads and training intensities, which may be more appropriate for certain clinical populations. Despite evidence confirming the positive muscular adaptations derived from BFRT and the clinical benefits found for other musculoskeletal conditions, BFRT has received a dearth of attention in tendon rehabilitation. Therefore, the purpose of this narrative review was threefold: firstly, to give an overview and analysis of the mechanisms and outcomes of BFRT in both healthy populations and in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Secondly, to give an overview of the evidence to date on the effects of BFRT on healthy tendon properties and clinical outcomes when applied to tendon pathology. Finally, a discussion on the clinical utility of BFRT and its potential applications within tendinopathy rehabilitation, including as a compliment to traditional heavy-load training, will be presented.


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