What is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?
Men’s Health magazine calls it “the fastest way to make your muscles grow.” Physical
therapists call it a total game changer when it comes to post-op rehab. Pro sports
teams have used it for a while now to help athletes train and recover. What exactly is it?
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFR) is a new technique getting a lot of buzz in weight
rooms all over the world. BFR is both a training enhancer and a way to decrease the
time it takes muscles to come back after an injury.
How it Works
To achieve muscle growth, you need to add more protein to your muscles than you
break down. During BFR therapy, blood flows to working muscles via arterial flow
but the veins are restricted so blood is partially prevented from leaving. This creates
a release of hormones throughout the body, which causes protein synthesis. BFR
forces the body to activate all of the muscles on the limb where the blood flow is
restricted. In order to maintain force output, metabolites (such as lactic acid) build
up in the muscle and stimulate the large, fast-twitch muscle fibers – the kind
typically triggered in heavy weight lifting that produce strength and power.
For instance, the arm might be wrapped just below the
shoulder and the thigh wrapped just below the gluteal fold. The muscle is then
worked at a low intensity – usually about 20% to 30% of your max.
The goal of BFR therapy is to help patients gain more strength while lifting lighter
loads (and reducing stress placed on the limb). The results are amazing:
Increased muscle hypertrophy (muscle size)Improved muscle endurance in 1/3 the time
Increased strength while only lifting 30% of the weight it would normally
Although BFR is still fairly new, it could eventually prove that high-intensity
resistance training is not necessary to improve strength, which in turn, could reduce
Is BFR Therapy Right For You?
If done with professionally trained, BFR-certified physical therapists, such as the
team at Southern Rehab, this kind of therapy is safe, comfortable and effective for
any age or athletic ability. BFR can be especially helpful for patients wanting to heal
– Most all knee pain/injuries
– Tennis elbow
– a history of ankle sprains
– a loss of strength from muscle disuse
– a stroke or spinal cord injury
– an operation like tendon repair, rotator cuff repair, hip/knee replacement
– osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
– and more
However, if you have a history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or are
pregnant, BFR therapy is not for you.
If you have any questions or you’re eager to give BFR therapy a try, call the staff at
Southern Rehab and Sports Medicine. Talk it over with them and see if it’s the right
choice for you. With three locations in LaGrange, West Point and Columbus, they’re
close by and ready to help. Visit www.southernrehab.com/contact-us/ for more