Blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT) is an innovative training method used to develop muscle strength and hypertrophy in both athletic and clinical settings. BFRT is performed by applying a pressurized cuff to the limb, which safely occludes venous blood return. Then low-load resistance training exercises are performed with the cuff on. This combination creates metabolic stress in the muscles, which induces a number of proposed mechanisms that lead to improvements in muscle strength, size, and activation. Research also shows that it results in reductions in pain and improvements in cardiovascular health too.
Muscle weakness and atrophy are prevalent among musculoskeletal rehabilitation patients, causing delayed return to activity. In traditional resistance training, muscle development requires exercise loads of 70% of one-repetition maximum (1RM), but the stress placed on connective tissues and joints can be detrimental to those who are already injured or recovering from surgery. BFRT allows us to use lower loads, only 20% to 40% of 1RM, to still achieve the results and benefits of traditional strength training.
This makes BFRT great for those recovering from surgery or injury where the injury site cannot be loaded in the traditional therapeutic range. We can effectively exercise the non-involved areas and hack our body’s chemistry into responding as if the area is being exercised!