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What Is Blood Flow Restriction Training And How Can It Help You?


Blood Flow Restriction Training training is a method that combines low-intensity exercise with blood flow obstruction to create outcomes that are comparable to those of high-intensity training. It has long been utilized in gym settings, but it is becoming more common in therapeutic settings.

What Is Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training?

What precisely is blood flow restriction (BFR) training and how can it help you? BFR training is growing in popularity in the rehab setting. Consider these two straightforward ideas: (1) We must utilize our muscles to sustain them, and (2) We must train our muscles to increase their strength.

Historically, strength-building muscle training involved gradually lifting greater weights over time. When lifting heavy objects, the muscles receive less oxygen, which prompts the body to react in ways that eventually result in muscle growth.

Many diverse categories of people - the injured, those who have recently undergone surgery, those with medical issues that make them prone to injury, the elderly, and the list goes on - may not be able to engage in weight training through heavy lifting.

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/blood-flow-restriction-training/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-10-02T17:40:45.570Z

History Of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training

Dr. Yoshiaki Sato made this rare discovery in Japan in the 1960s. Dr. Sato observed his lower leg muscles were swelled when he was 18 years old and was sitting for a long period in the traditional Japanese position. It appeared as though he had worked out hard.

Dr. Sato eventually patented the pressurization approach, known as "KAATSU" ("added pressure") training, following years of research and experimentation. It entails placing a pneumatic cuff (tourniquet) close to the muscle that is being worked. Either the upper or lower limb may be subjected to it.

In order to achieve partial arterial and complete venous occlusion, the cuff is then inflated to a specified pressure. The patient is then instructed to undertake resistance training with high repetitions (15–30) and short rest intervals (30 seconds) between sets at a low intensity of 20–30% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM).

Later, it was successfully used by the Department of Defense on military soldiers undergoing limb salvage operations, catastrophic blast injuries, and routine orthopedic treatments including ACL reconstruction.

Professional athletes have since started to use it frequently; the first NFL player to do so was Jadeveon Clowney in 2015 following a lower leg injury. Due to the evident advantages proven via significant studies, BFR is now prevalent in general orthopedic rehab institutions and hospital settings.

Blood Flow Restriction Training

BFR Training

A customized tourniquet is applied to the upper thigh or arm during BFR training to simulate the hypoxic (low oxygen) environment that develops during exercise. What makes BFR so special is that it just requires a small load - or even just your body weight - to produce results that are comparable to those of heavy lifting.

Additionally, studies have demonstrated that using a BFR walking program significantly improves lower leg strength, muscle volume, and functional outcome measures.

The prospect of building muscle simply by walking while wearing a BFR tourniquet is exciting. The tourniquet's blood-pooling effect during exercise and the increased activation of muscle fibers encourage the release of hormones and growth factors that are good for the area.

This prevents muscle atrophy and encourages the growth and strength of muscles.

BFR Benefits

According to BFR training specialists, traditional heavy weight training is excellent for maximizing muscle growth whenever possible, and BFR should be used when loading heavily is not feasible.

After a spine injury or surgery, there is frequently a reduction in activity, which allows for the possibility of muscle loss. While an injury is healing or before and after surgery, using BFR with modest weight training can be very beneficial and compliant with post-surgical lifting limitations while reducing muscle loss and even improving strength.

One of the most challenging issues a physical therapist encounters when treating patients is muscle loss, which affects the older population often.

BFR Safety

Priority one while recovery is safety. With BFR training, the risks of blood clots and muscle damage have been widely researched.

These studies have demonstrated that BFR does not speed up the blood clotting process and that the risk of getting a blood clot is comparable to the risk associated with conventional exercise training. When utilizing light weights with BFR, the danger of muscle damage is lower than the risk when using large weights.

BFR is not for everyone, but it is safest when carried out under the direct supervision of a physical therapist who has received BFR training. A wide range of patients has been able to maintain or restore strength and return to a reasonable quality of life sooner than with standard rehab thanks to this ground-breaking technology.

BFR training has been quite effective for many patients at Virginia Therapy and Fitness Center during their rehabilitation processes. Since its discovery, BFR training has developed, and it is unquestionably here to stay.

Final Statement

BFR has been utilized in recreational training and by sportsmen to achieve muscle growth. Additionally, it can be applied to therapeutic groups that are unable to engage in high-intensity workouts due to the severity of their illness or underlying pathology.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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