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Eccentric exercises; why do they work, what are the problems and how can we improve them?
  1. J D Rees1,2,
  2. R L Wolman2,
  3. A Wilson3
  1. 1
    Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court, Surrey, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Sport and Exercise Medicine, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3
    Structure and Motion Laboratory, The Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  1. J D Rees, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court, near Epsom, Surrey, KT18 6JW, UK; j.rees{at}


Eccentric exercises (EE) have proved successful in the management of chronic tendinopathy, particularly of the Achilles and patellar tendons, where they have been shown to be effective in controlled trials. However, numerous questions regarding EE remain. The standard protocols are time-consuming and require very motivated patients. EE are effective in some tendinopathies but not others. Furthermore, the location of the lesion can have a profound effect on efficacy; for example, standard EE in insertional lesions of the Achilles are ineffective.

Until recently little was known of the effect of EE on tendinopathic tendons, although a greater understanding of this process is emerging. Additionally, recent in vivo evidence directly comparing eccentric and concentric exercises provides a possible explanation for the therapeutic benefit of EE. The challenge now is to make EE more effective. Suggestions on areas of future research are made.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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