Blood flow restriction (BFR) training

What is BFR?

 

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a training and rehabilitation strategy involving the use of a cuff or bands placed around a limb during exercise, to maintain arterial inflow to the muscle while preventing venous return (venous occlusion).

 

 

Why BFR?

 

BFR shows amazing potential in the sports medicine world by allowing a patient to improve hypertrophy (muscle growth) and strength without stressing or overloading their joints. BFR has been shown to require a substantially shorter period of physical activity to achieve the same muscle growth results (3-6 weeks vs 8-12 weeks). As a patient, this will allow you to rehabilitate more aggressively and decrease muscle atrophy, even when you have load/weight bearing restrictions secondary to your healing process or surgical protocols.

 

Who Benefits?

  • Immobile or mobility-restricted populations:

    • Bed ridden

    • Casted

    • Post-operative rehabilitation patients

    • Elderly

  • Athletic populations:

    • Active recovery

    • Decrease joint/tissue loads

    • Isolated exercises for “weak link” region

 

How does it work?

 

By reducing blood flow, one can create positive effects that will allow for a hypertrophy and strength response to the muscles that you would traditionally need a heavy load to achieve.

Studies show that working out at 80% of your one repetition maximum lift allows for hypertrophy, with BFR, working out at just 20% of this 1 rep max allows for the same hypertrophy response.

 

The Science

  • BFR allows for the use of Type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibers faster and more effectively

  • Increase in muscle protein synthesis

  • Increase in lactate to help with motor recruitment

  • Increase in growth hormone (by 1.7x) and other anabolic (positive) muscle growth factors

    • Growth hormone plays a role in collagen synthesis which could help with bone healing and plays a role in joint and tendon health

  • Increased cell swelling, increased satellite cell pool to allow for muscle memory

  • Decreased myostatin which leads to an increased ability for muscle hypertrophy and a decreased chance for fibrosis after injury

  • BFR creates an analgesic affect to reduce pain

 

Side Effects

  • Fatigued muscle

  • Mild soreness

  • Small chance of residual swelling in limb

  • Studies show NO greater risk of blood clot


 

Loenneke JP, Abe T, Wilson JM, Ugrinowitsch C, & Bemben MG (2012) Blood flow restriction: how does it work? Frontiers in Physiology, 3, 392.

Loenneke JP, Wilson GJ, & Wilson JM (2010) A mechanistic approach to blood flow occlusion. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 31(1), 1-4.

Nakajima T. Key considerations when conducting KAATSU training. Int J KAATSU Train Res. 2011;7(1):1-6

Nakajima T. Use and safety of KAATSU training; results of a national survey. Int J KAATSU Train Res. 2006;2(1):5-13

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload

Recent Posts

January 30, 2020

Please reload

Archive
Please reload

Search By Tags