Tendon Recovery with Blood Flow Restriction?

If you’ve been in my treatment room for any length of time, there is a decent chance you have experienced some degree of blood flow restriction therapy (BFR). This specialized treatment utilizes a high-tech tourniquet to occlude blood flow leaving your limb. This allows us to achieve much of the same benefits you get from max-effort training, while only working at approximately 20% resistance. This technique allows us to progress you even faster in regards to strength training and gaining muscle mass – which translates to getting back to what you love!


We know that BFR impacts muscle size and strength, but what about tendons? Does the muscle growth outpace tendon growth? A study published late last year examined what happens to tendons with BFR.(1)


The researchers in this study compared BFR to traditional high-intensity strength training, and observed the changes to tendon structure. The high-intensity group started working out at 75% of their 1 Rep Maximum (1RM), which is no easy task. It then progressed 5% per week starting at 4 weeks, and culminating in 85% 1RM (very challenging).


The BFR group, however, started at 20% 1RM, and progressed 5% each week to end at 35% 1RM (not heavy at all!).


At the end of the study, researchers discovered that bothgroups demonstrated the same changes in muscle size and strength along with tendon thickness and stiffness! So now we have proof that BFR can actually impact tendon just as drastically as muscle. So we can train at 35% of your maximum ability and achieve the same tendon improvements as if we were training at 85%.


This has some major implications for tendon recovery and lets us have one more way to get you back to enjoying a healthy lifestyle, pain-free.


Want to learn more? Reach out to us today!


Thanks for reading,

Ryan



1. Centner, C., Lauber, B., Seynnes, O. R., Jerger, S., Sohnius, T., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2019). Low-load blood flow restriction training induces similar morphological and mechanical Achilles tendon adaptations compared with high-load resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology127(6), 1660-1667.

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