Low-load blood flow restriction and high-load resistance training induce comparable changes in patellar tendon properties

Review written by Dr Nicholas Rolnick info

Key Points

  1. For the first time, low-load training (20-35% 1RM) with blood flow restriction was shown to improve patellar tendon physical properties (stiffness and cross-sectional area) to a similar degree with similar changes in muscle mass and strength as high-load training (> 70% 1RM).
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Typical recommendations for improving the physical properties of tendons (such as cross-sectional area and stiffness) include resistance training above 70% 1RM (1). Low loads have been shown to be ineffective at improving the physical properties of tendons (1). However, low-load blood flow restriction (BFR) training (using 20-35% 1RM) has been shown to induce comparable changes in the physical properties of the Achilles tendon to that of the traditionally recommended 70-85% 1RM (3).

The addition of BFR to low-load exercise is particularly relevant in clinical practice where painful tendon-related conditions may impede the rehabilitation process (4). Centner et al (2019) investigated in the Achilles and was the first of its kind to show the positive effects of low load BFR compared to heavy load strength training (3). It is unknown whether positive benefits would extend to other regions such as the patellar tendon. This study sought to investigate!

The addition of BFR to low-load exercise is particularly relevant in clinical practice where painful tendon-related conditions may impede the rehabilitation process.
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This study suggests that individuals with painful patellar tendinopathies could utilize low-load BFR in the short-term and obtain similar adaptations as those lifting heavier loads.

METHODS

This study investigated the effects of low-load BFR (20-35% 1RM) on the following patellar tendon (PT) properties and muscular adaptations:

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