Blood Flow Restriction
Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is a training and rehabilitation strategy using of cuffs or bands placed around a limb during exercise, to maintain arterial inflow to the muscle while preventing venous return (venous occlusion). Centner et al (2018) systematic review showed that walking with BFR is an effective intervention to stimulate muscle hypertrophy and strength gains in older populations.
How does it work?
We know that the lack of venous return creates a swelling effect (hypertrophy) of the muscle. Metabolites, such as lactate, accumulate and stimulate muscle growth.
The cellular mechanisms are being researched and focusing around how the hypoxic environment promotes strength and muscle growth, direct muscle fatigue forces the nervous system to recruit the largest fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the greatest capacity to grow, and why this causes an increase to Growth Hormone (GH) and Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1).
What are the benefits of BFR?
- Increased muscle size (Hypertrophy)
- Increased strength
- Decreased joint and tissue stress
- Little to no muscle damage or soreness (DOMS)
- Little to no recovery needed
- Low Intensity needed (resistance or cardio)
Who benefits from BFR?
Post-operation patients, especially knee arthroscopy and ACL reconstructionImmobile or mobility-restricted populations, Bed ridden and the elderly
Athletic populations for active recovery and decrease joint/tissue loads