Football Features

Explained: How Harvey Elliott is using NASA technology to expedite his recovery from ankle injury

By Dr Rajpal Brar

Published: 17:18, 26 October 2021

Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliott recently provided an update in his rehabilitation following an ankle injury suffered in the win over Leeds last month.

Elliott was on the end of a strong tackle from Patrick Struijk in the 63rd minute of the 3-0 victory at Elland Road, bringing an abrupt end to a positive start to the season in which he had started three of Liverpool’s opening four matches with an ankle fracture-dislocation.

The 18-year-old’s update came via a curated video on his Instagram, providing multiple insights into his current recovery protocol including two pieces of state of the art sports medicine technology.

Bet £10, Get £20 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+, UK only. Deposit and place a minimum £10 cash bet at single or accumulated odds of 1/1 or greater and we will give you 1 x £5 in free bets plus an extra 3 x £5 Free Bets the following day. Applies to first cash bet only. Free bets credited as 4 x £5 bets to use on 3x Any sport & 1x Virtuals. Cashed Out, Void or Draw No Bet wagers do not qualify for this promotion. 1 x £5 Free Bets are credited upon qualifying first bet settlement, other free bets credited by midday the day after your first bet settles. 7-day free bet expiry. Available once per customer. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion. Full T&C’s apply.

18+ only. New UK customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+ only. Use code BET30. New Players Only. Minimum stake $/€/£ 10, minimum odds1.5, stake not returned.1X wagering the winnings from the free bet. Wagering occurs from real balance first. Wagering requirement is calculated on bonus bets only, wagering starts from real funds. Free bet is valid for 7 Days from issue. Max conversion: $/€/£ 200. Excluded Skrill deposits. Withdrawal requests voids all active/pending bonuses. Full Terms Apply

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
£20 in free bets when you place a £10 bet T&Cs apply

18+ only. £10 min. deposit required. 1 x £10 qualifying bet required. Qualifying bet must be placed on selection with min. odds of 1.8 (4/5). 4 x £5 Free Bets will be credited once the qualifying bet has been settled. 1 x Free Bet valid for any Football Match Result market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Football Correct Score market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Horse Racing market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Tennis market. Free Bets valid for 7 days once credited. T&Cs apply.

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here

In the video, there are two instances (during a free-weight squad and a seated leg extension on an extension machine) where Elliott is wearing what looks like a black collar cuff around his left quadriceps. This isn’t simply a style statement to make the quads pop, it’s something called ‘blood flow restriction training’ or BFR for short.

What this technology does is enhance muscle development and hypertrophy by partially restricting blood flow – inflow (arterial blood flow) is partially restricted and outflow (venous blood flow) is fully restricted – by using a tourniquet system and cuff (the black band you see on Elliott’s leg) to apply external pressure around the muscles.

This might sound like some “new age science” but it actually dates back to the 1970s in Japan where Dr. Yoshiaki Sato invented and applied the concept – known there as “KAATSU training” or “training with additional pressure” – to help train geriatric populations at lower load levels.

What the blood flow restriction does (I’ll spare you the physiological details) is allow for greater muscular development at lower levels of load and weight added. You can probably see how that would benefit Elliott and other players in the early stages of rehabilitation who cannot yet handle higher intensity loads. It expedites regaining strength and mitigating strength deficits which is one of the key goals of physiotherapy. The quicker you can normalise that, the better the outcome.

The technology has become increasingly used by physiotherapists and there’s an increasingly robust volume of research supporting its use not only in rehabilitation but also skeletal muscle strength in young, healthy populations too.

The second piece of technology Harvey is harnessing in these early stages of physiotherapy looks like a giant bubble that you can see him running in. This piece of equipment is called an “AlterG treadmill” and uses technology that was originally designed and patented by NASA. Yes, that NASA.

The AlterG uses a technique of differential air pressure to create a pressurised bubble in which body weight can be modulated. It was originally designed by NASA to train astronauts going into space and aid with exercise and maintaining conditioning while up in space.

The treadmill allows Elliott to decrease the amount of weight through his injured left foot by up to 80% (so only 20% of his body weight is actually going through the foot). This of course allows for a methodical progression in which body weight is gradually increased as the injured leg acclimates and further allows him to maintain some level of conditioning while returning him quicker to his normal running gait – another key goal of early physiotherapy.

It’s a very useful tool on many levels because nothing can truly replace running as an activity and it also gives players a lot of confidence in their ability to recover. Running is something they have done their entire life so the quicker you can restore some of those “normal” movements, the more normal and comfortable the athlete is going to feel with their body.

The world of sports medicine rehabilitation – particularly at the elite sports level – continues to push the envelope in harnessing technology to help improve outcomes and expedite recoveries. These two pieces are prime examples of that and I also previously made a video about Elliott using “oxygen therapy” to improve recovery as well. At this level where money is no object, clubs will leave no stone unturned to help their players and rightfully so.

Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT, (@3cbperformance) is a physiotherapist, movement expert, fitness trainer, sports scientist and mindfulness coach. He runs the LA and online based wellness and athletic performance clinic 3CB Performance, and you can subscribe to his Youtube channel (which posts analyses of Lionel Messi and more).

✕︎

Sign up to the Best Football Offers

A valid email is required.

Invalid e-mail.

Yes I am over 18.
Yes, I would like to receive email updates on exciting offers from squawka.com. For more info on how we and our partners process your data, see Privacy and Cookie Policies.
You need to confirm that you are over 18 and that you want to receive updates.

*By subscribing you are confirming that you are over 18 years of age.

*All emails include an unsubscribe link, where you can opt out any time. *Please see our privacy and cookies policy..

x

Newsletter error