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Where Does Blood Flow Restriction Fit in the Toolbox of Athletic Development? A Narrative Review of the Proposed Mechanisms and Potential Applications

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posted on 2023-11-10, 01:04 authored by Charlie DavidsCharlie Davids, Llion A Roberts, Thomas Bjørnsen, Jonathan M Peake, Jeff S Coombes, Truls Raastad
Blood flow-restricted exercise is currently used as a low-intensity time-efficient approach to reap many of the benefits of typical high-intensity training. Evidence continues to lend support to the notion that even highly trained individuals, such as athletes, still benefit from this mode of training. Both resistance and endurance exercise may be combined with blood flow restriction to provide a spectrum of adaptations in skeletal muscle, spanning from myofibrillar to mitochondrial adjustments. Such diverse adaptations would benefit both muscular strength and endurance qualities concurrently, which are demanded in athletic performance, most notably in team sports. Moreover, recent work indicates that when traditional high-load resistance training is supplemented with low-load, blood flow-restricted exercise, either in the same session or as a separate training block in a periodised programme, a synergistic and complementary effect on training adaptations may occur. Transient reductions in mechanical loading of tissues afforded by low-load, blood flow-restricted exercise may also serve a purpose during de-loading, tapering or rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injury. This narrative review aims to expand on the current scientific and practical understanding of how blood flow restriction methods may be applied by coaches and practitioners to enhance current athletic development models.


Publication Date



Sports Medicine






Springer Nature



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