What in the world is blood flow restriction?!

This new training tool is picking up popularity in the PT field and has everyone wondering why?

Here’s what we found: Blood flow restriction aka BFR training is a rehabilitation strategy using a band or cuff to limit venous blood return while maintaining arterial flow.

Why does this matter? Limited venous blood return creates a hypoxic environment that induces several physiological changes causing:

1. Swelling of the muscle

2. Metabolites such as lactacte to accumulate and stimulate muscle growth

3. Direct muscle fatigue causing the nervous system to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers (these have the greatest capacity for growth)

The idea is to induce these changes while using light weights/ resistance with higher reps and set schemes to increase muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

It is said that exercising at loads of 20% of maximum in conjunction with BFR training show similar benefits to training at 70% of maximum without BFR trainng. What’s important is that it can show similar benefits while reducing the risk for joint shear forces and non-contractile tissue damage caused by heavier weights. This can be beneficial for the mobile-restricted, post-op, elder, or athletic population in active recovery.