April 10th, 2022
Blood Flow Restriction Can Decrease Recovery Times and Improve Physical Performance Overall!
If you've been to the gym recently and noticed someone weightlifting with bands wrapped around their biceps, they're probably experimenting with Blood Flow Restriction Training, or BFR.
The goal of Blood Flow Restriction Training is to keep arterial blood flowing to certain muscles, while preventing venous blood to return. This type of training, also known as occlusion training, entails wrapping, bandaging, or cuffing a leg or arm while exercising.
This training regimen is advantageous because it can induce muscle adaptations at much lower loads. BFR is said to provide many of the same benefits as heavy lifting without the muscle damage. BFR Training also improves post-training recovery and reduces atrophy during injuries.
Blood flow restriction, explained
BFR can be combined with other forms of exercise such as walking, running, or resistance training. In fact, when compared to workouts that only use resistance training, exercise programs that include both BFR and low-load resistance training appear to have numerous positive effects on the muscle.
BFR appears to boost strength, promote hypertrophy (increased muscle size), increase muscle activity, and boost post-exercise muscle protein synthesis.
The combination of BFR and resistance training has also shown growth hormone elevations similar to those seen with conventional resistance training. Resistance training programs that include BFR and low loads (20 – 30% of 1RM) appear to increase strength.
It is important to note that before attempting Blood Flow Restriction Training, you should consult with a physician, especially if you are pregnant and/or have cardiac disease, high blood pressure, or varicose veins.
How can blood flow restriction help with recovery?
At your initial appointment, one of our physical therapists who specializes in blood flow restriction will perform a physical evaluation, medical history analysis, and symptom discussion, in order to determine if BFR is the best course of treatment for you.
Blood flow restriction has been used to treat almost any upper or lower body injury, and it can also be used as a form of post-surgery rehabilitation. The compression device measures the amount of pressure that is recommended for the affected area in order for the patient to successfully complete each targeted exercise and achieve the desired results.
The goal of BFR during your prescribed exercises is to tire out the affected area, in order to stimulate the body's natural healing and tissue-building processes. This shortens your recovery time and allows you to return to your normal activities as soon as possible.
Muscle soreness may occur for the next day or two after treatment, and “limb fatigue” may occur for 20-30 minutes but should disappear quickly.
What can I expect with blood flow restriction?
The compression devices used during blood flow restriction treatments are similar to blood pressure cuffs. The pressure created by these compression devices is high enough to occlude blood flow at 50-80% within the affected muscles. Research has proven the safety of this device.
BFR is based on a popular theory that the treatments lead to a “local hypoxic event,” meaning the tissues in the affected area will be temporarily deprived of oxygen. While this may sound intimidating, the local hypoxia actually helps in accumulating more metabolites, in order to regulate the body’s anabolic response system (also known as the way in which the body gains muscle protein) during exercise. Essentially, restricting the blood flow in the affected area helps to build more muscle protein.
With personalized blood flow restriction devices, such as the Personalized Tourniquet System (PTS) that we offer, you are actually able to safely regulate the amount of tourniquet pressure for your specific needs. According to the Owens Recovery Science website, personalized blood flow restriction comes with several benefits, including but not limited to:
- Increasing growth hormone responses
- Improving muscle activation
- Improving strength and hypertrophy after surgery
- Improving muscle protein synthesis in the elderly
- Improving muscle endurance in 1/3 the time
- Increasing hypertrophy with only 30% loads
- Increasing strength with only 30% loads
- Diminishing atrophy and loss of strength from disuse and non-weight bearing after injuries
Begin a treatment plan today
If you are looking to improve your physical performance and/or you're recovering from an injury or surgery and would like to participate in blood flow restriction treatments, please contact us right away. Our licensed physical therapists are highly trained in this treatment and would be happy to discuss how it might benefit you.
The goal of BFR during your prescribed exercises is to tire out the affected area in order to stimulate the body's natural healing and tissue-building processes. This process uses 30% of the normal required loads while providing the same desired results.
Because of the significant reduction in required load, there is less stress on any joint, allowing for strengthening of the affected area(s). As a result, your strength will be accelerated, allowing you to reach your goals faster.
Contact us today to set up a consultation and get started on the road to better overall function!