Ultimate Guide to Blood Flow Restriction Training

 Ultimate Guide to Blood Flow Restriction Training

Blood Flow Restriction

Blood flow restriction training is a physical therapy modality where the patient is advised to perform physical activities with restricted blood flow in the affected area. If you are someone recovering from an injury, the treatment may seem counterintuitive. 

“How  is blood restriction beneficial for my recovery?” Isn’t blood circulation necessary for rehabilitation ?” While these are genuine concerns, blood flow restriction treatments can have a number of advantages for athletes and non-athletes alike. 

This article explains how blood flow restriction works, what are its benefits and what conditions can be treated with this treatment modality. Read on to know more. 

What Is Blood Flow Restriction & How It Works?

BFR is a treatment technique where blood flow is stopped in the affected/injured area before exercising. This is often done by using a cuff or strap; which reduces the blood flow but doesn’t stop it entirely. The most prominent benefit of this is that it allows the individual to exercise with low intensity while offering the benefit of a highly intensive workout.  

The devices used in compression during BRF are similar to those used for measuring blood pressure levels. The pressure generated by these devices is high enough to cut down 60-70% blood flow in the targeted area.

This technique is based on a widely accepted belief that restricting blood flow in a specific area causes a “local hypoxic event,” in which the tissues in the afflicted area are briefly deprived of oxygen. 

While this may seem like an adverse effect, local hypoxia actually aids in the accumulation of additional metabolites, which serves to regulate the body’s anabolic response system (the process by which the body grows muscle protein) during exercise. In essence, reducing blood flow in the affected area aids in the development of more muscle protein.

What Conditions That Can Be Treated With BFR Training ?

BFR is beneficial in treating the following conditions-

  • Rehabilitation from surgeries like – knee reconstruction,rotator cuff etc. 
  • Chronic pain in knees or arms
  • Geriartric care 

BFR After ACL Reconstruction

It is no secret that knees, quadriceps and other areas in your leg are unable to function optimally & lose their strength after surgical treatments like ACL reconstruction. 

BFR treatment has proven to be effective in increasing muscle strength and treating hypertrophy losses effectively. There is ample scientific evidence supporting this conclusion.

In addition, blood restriction also helps in treating immobilization that is caused by surgical treatments. 

BFR For Chronic Pain

Majority of patients that avail BFR training are suffering from chronic pain in knees or arms. These individuals are unable to perform high-intensity exercises as it might aggravate the affected regions and lead to severe pain. 

Therefore, BFR training with low intensity is preferable for treating chronic pain and improving overall functioning. 

BFR For Geriatric Population

Another population that can benefit greatly from BFR training is the ‘geriatric population’. With old age, your joints and muscles become weak and cannot bear intense physical activity.

BFR has been reported to help with pain alleviation and functional ratings in elderly adults in several studies.

Of course, the training expert needs to be extra careful while working with the older adults. But, if they can obtain the benefits of strength training while using lower weights, that’s a win-win!

Benefits Of Blood Flow Restriction Training 

Before delving into the benefits let us look at how your initial BFR session would look like. Firstly, your physical therapist will conduct a thorough physical analysis and look into your medical history before determining the course of treatment for you.

 During the treatment,your PT expert will use a compression device appropriate for your specific symptoms. These tools will automatically measure the amount of pressure that is needed for the affected area to function optimally and derive the desired benefits from the exercises.

The purpose of restricting blood flow during the workouts is to exhaust the damaged area in order to activate the body’s natural healing and tissue-building processes. Muscle pain may last for a day or two after treatment, and “limb weakness” may occur for 20-30 minutes before disappearing.

Some of the most prominent benefits of BFR training includes – 

  • Increase in muscle strength which is triggered by metabolic stress caused during the exercise. 
  • Benefits of high intensity training with low muscle stress. 
  • Boosting of anabolic metabolism or muscle growth. 
  • Allows quick rehabilitation. 

Concluding Thoughts 

If you are recovering from an injury or illness that is preventing you from living life to the fullest, you might benefit significantly from Blood Flow Restriction Training. Contact your nearest physical therapy clinic today and get started on your path to recovery and healthy living. 

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