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Medicina dello Sport 2021 September;74(3):435-40

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.21.03993-4


language: English, Italian

The potential of blood flow restriction exercise to overcome jetlag: important implications for Tokyo 2020

Maria KOTOPOULEA NIKOLAIDI 1, Borja MUNIZ-PARDOS 2, Ifigeneia GIANNOPOULOU 1, Fergus M. GUPPY 3, 4, Chiara FOSSATI 5, 6, Dina C. JANSE VAN RENSBURG 6, 7, Demitri CONSTANTINOU 6, 8, Fabio PIGOZZI 5, 6, Yannis PITSILADIS 3, 6, 9, 10

1 School of Sport and Service Management (SASM), University of Brighton, Brighton, UK; 2 GENUD Research Group, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; 3 Centre for Stress and Age Related Disease, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK; 4 School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK; 5 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, Foro Italico University, Rome, Italy; 6 International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS), Lausanne, Switzerland; 7 Section of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; 8 Center for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; 9 Center for Exercise Sciences and Sports Medicine, FIMS Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine, Rome, Italy; 10 European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations (EFSMA), Lausanne, Switzerland


The decision taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the Olympic Games this summer brings new challenges for event organizers and athletes. One such measure taken by the IOC is to mandate that athletes may not enter the Olympic Village more than five days before competing at the Games in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, athletes from around the globe that are unable to make alternative plans will need to travel to Tokyo and acclimatize within only 5 days before their event. Of particular concern are the adverse health and performance effects elicited by flight dysrhythmia, also known as jetlag, on those athletes travelling to the Olympic Games across multiple times zones. Blood flow restriction (BFR) is a safe exercise mode that can potentially diminish the impact of jetlag on performance through its numerous advantageous physiological adaptations that overlap with those of other jetlag mitigation strategies. Experimental data are required to confirm this intriguing possibility. The present commentary aims to encourage more research into the effects of BFR training in conjunction with other strategies to overcome the effects of jetlag prior to, during and after a long-haul flight on the subsequent performance of elite athletes, particularly during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

KEY WORDS: Blood circulation; Sports; Jet lag syndrome

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