Did You Know Blood Flow Restriction Could Help You Achieve Your Physical Goals?
If you’ve been at the gym recently and notice someone weightlifting with bands wrapped around their biceps, they are likely trying out a new training regimen called Blood Flow Restriction Training, or BFR.
The strategy behind Blood Flow Restriction Training is to maintain arterial blood flow to a muscle while preventing the venous return of blood. This form of training, also known as occlusion training, involves placing a wrap, band, or cuff around the leg or arm while exercising.
This training regimen is beneficial because it can produce adaptations in the muscle at much lower loads. It is said that BFR offers many of the same results of heavy lifting without the muscle damage. Blood Flow Restriction Training also provides enhanced recovery after training and reduces atrophy during injuries.
How does blood flow restriction work?
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.
Blood flow restriction 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:
- Diminishing atrophy and loss of strength from disuse and non-weight bearing after injuries
- Increasing strength with only 30% loads
- Increasing hypertrophy with only 30% loads
- Improving muscle endurance in 1/3 the time
- Improving muscle protein synthesis in the elderly
- Improving strength and hypertrophy after surgery
- Improving muscle activation
- Increasing growth hormone responses
Blood flow restriction for relief
At your initial appointment, one of our physical therapists who specializes in blood flow restriction will conduct a physical evaluation, analysis of medical history, and discussion of symptoms, in order to determine if blood flow restriction will be the best course of treatment for you.
Blood flow restriction has been known to treat almost any upper or lower body injury, and it can also be used as a form of rehabilitation following surgery. The compression device itself measures the amount of pressure that is recommended for the affected area, in order for the patient to successfully execute each targeted exercise and gain the desired effects.
When performing the exercises, the intended goal of blood flow restriction is to tire out the affected area, in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing and tissue-building processes. This helps speed up your recovery time, so you can get back to your sport as quickly as possible.
After treatment, muscle soreness may occur for the next day or two, and “limb fatigue” may occur for 20-30 minutes but should disappear shortly.
What else should I know about blood flow restriction training?
BFR can be implemented in conjunction with other forms of exercise, such as walking, running or resistance training. In fact, exercise programs that include both BFR and low-load resistance training appear to have numerous positive effects on the muscle when compared to workouts that utilize resistance training alone.
BFR appears to increase strength, promote hypertrophy (increased muscle size), increase muscle activity, and results in increased post-exercise muscle protein synthesis. The BFR and resistance training combination has also shown growth hormone elevations that are seen in conventional resistance training. Programs that incorporate resistance training with BFR and low loads (20 – 30% of 1RM) appear to increase strength.
If you are pregnant and/or have cardiac disease, high blood pressure, or varicose veins, you should consult a physician before trying Blood Flow Restriction Training.
Get started on a blood flow restriction plan today
If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, and you are interested in participating in blood flow restriction training treatments, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our licensed physical therapists are highly trained in performing this treatment and they would love to discuss how it may benefit you personally.
When performing the exercises, the intended goal of blood flow restriction 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 with the same desired benefits.
This significant reduction in required load is less stress on any joint, thus allowing strengthening to occur where traditional strengthening would not be indicated. The result is accelerated strengthening, so you can reach your goals quicker.
Contact Ellis Physical Therapy today to schedule a consultation and get started on the path toward overall functional improvement!