What is blood flow restriction?
Blood flow restriction training (BFR), sometimes referred to as KAATSU or occlusion training, is a training technique that restricts blood flow both into and out of working muscles during exercise. After years of research and use in rehabilitation injured U.S. soldiers, BFR has become an increasingly popular modality within the rehabilitation and strength training community. This popularity is due to its ability to promote rapid tissue healing and considerable strength gains while performing low intensity exercise.
What are the benefits of blood flow restriction?
Research has reported a number of benefits associated with blood flow restriction, including the following:
- Greater gains in muscle growth, strength, and endurance
- Improved healing of muscle and tendon injuries
- Faster healing of fractures
- Increased recruitment or activation of motor nerve fibers to a muscle
- Improved capillary density formation in an injured area
- Strength development in individuals unable to perform high intensity exercise after an injury or surgery.
What does blood flow restriction look like?
A pressurized cuff is placed on one or more extremities. With the individually determined amount of pressure, the cuff will partially limit arterial blood flow into the limb while restricting venous blood flow out of the limb that is being exercised. This compression creates a pooling of blood within the occluded limb and creates biochemical responses similar to that of high intensity exercise. After a short round of exercise at low intensity, the pressure is released to allow normal blood flow.
How does blood flow work?
The use of BFR with low intensity exercise tricks the body into believing it is performing high intensity exercise causing it to respond in kind. Research has shown the blood lactate volumes are increased considerably when compared to normal low intensity exercise. This lactate production stimulates the release of chemicals and hormones that heal tissue, build muscular strength and size and limits the development of scar tissue.
What diagnoses is blood flow restriction commonly used for?
- Pulled Muscles/ Muscular Strains
- Following orthopedic surgery (Total Knee/hip Replacements, Rotator Cuff Repair, etc.)
- Tendinopathy (AchillesTendon Tendinosis, Posterior Tibialis Tendon tears, partial rotator cuff tear)
- Weakness of musculature after injury
- Fracture of bone
Is blood flow restriction safe?
Personalized BFR training is safe, although there are particular medical conditions that may contraindicate its use. A few common contraindications are uncontrolled heart conditions, open wounds or fractures, uncontrolled hypertension, certain cancerous conditions, severe vascular conditions. There are other unique conditions that would require medical practitioner input to decide if BFR is right for you.
Are there any side effects?
Generally there are no negative side effects other than typical muscle soreness from exercise after the first few sessions.