Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFR) for Strength Training and Rehabilitation
Blood flow restriction (BFR) therapy is a technique that involves partially restricting blood flow to a muscle during exercise. This causes a buildup of metabolic waste products, which in turn triggers a number of physiological responses that lead to muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.
BFR therapy has been shown to be effective for both strength training and rehabilitation. For strength training, BFR can help you to make greater gains in muscle mass and strength with less effort. This is because you can use lighter weights and still achieve the same results as if you were using heavier weights.
For rehabilitation, BFR can help to speed up the recovery process from injuries. This is because it allows you to start exercising sooner, even if you are still experiencing some pain. BFR can also help to prevent muscle atrophy, which is the loss of muscle mass that can occur after an injury.
How does BFR work?
When blood flow is restricted to a muscle, the muscle cells become deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This causes a buildup of metabolic waste products, such as lactate and hydrogen ions. These waste products trigger a number of physiological responses, including:
Increased production of growth hormone. Growth hormone is a hormone that plays a role in muscle growth and repair.
Increased production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas that relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow.
Increased protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process by which new muscle proteins are made.
Benefits of BFR therapy
The benefits of BFR therapy include:
Increased muscle mass and strength. BFR therapy has been shown to be effective for increasing muscle mass and strength. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, people who did BFR training for 12 weeks gained an average of 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs) of muscle mass and 15% in strength.
Speeded up recovery from injuries. BFR therapy can help to speed up the recovery process from injuries. In a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, people who did BFR training after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery returned to sports activities an average of 3 months earlier than people who did not do BFR training.
Reduced risk of muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is the loss of muscle mass that can occur after an injury. BFR therapy can help to prevent muscle atrophy by stimulating protein synthesis and increasing muscle mass.
Safety of BFR therapy
BFR therapy is generally safe for most people. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before starting BFR therapy if you have any health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.
How to do BFR therapy
BFR therapy is typically done in a clinical setting by a physical therapist or other healthcare professional. However, there are also some home BFR devices available. To do BFR therapy, a pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm or thigh. The pressure cuff is inflated to a pressure that is just below the point where blood flow is completely cut off. You will then do low-intensity resistance exercises, such as bicep curls or leg extensions.
The duration of each BFR session is typically 20-30 minutes. You should do BFR therapy 2-3 times per week. You can easily do this at home with our EDGE Restriction System BFR Cuffs - made in the USA and available below!
Effects of blood flow restriction training on muscle hypertrophy and strength. PMC7727422: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7727422/
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and Its Use for Rehabilitation and Return to Sport: Physiology, Application, and Guidelines for Implementation. PMC8811521: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8811521/
Resistance Training with Blood Flow Restriction Compared to Traditional Resistance Training on Strength and Muscle Mass in Non-Active Older Adults. PMC8583588: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8583588/