Blood Flow Restriction Training: Squeezing Some Facts Out of the New Trend

One of the latest trends in muscle building is using blood flow restriction (BFR) training to enhance muscle growth. In the body building community, this technique is being incorporated into training regimens to produce enhanced muscle growth in a shorter period of time. However, this method is not just for those looking to increase muscle size for weight training or body building; it can be used in a variety of applications, including rehabilitation therapy.

Blood Flow Restriction Facts

Blood flow restriction, or BFR, refers to restriction of the venous blood flow in muscles. This is achieved by using a band that is secured tightly between the specific muscle area and the heart. The purpose is to allow atrial blood flow but to also restrict venous flow, trapping the blood in the targeted muscle. For example, when performing resistance training on the biceps and forearms, a band is wrapped tightly around the top of the arm to restrict the blood flow to the muscle in the bicep and forearm.

The results from this technique have been documented, showing enhanced muscle growth when used with resistance training. This is thought to occur due to increased protein synthesis and possibly due to mimicking the effects of metabolic overload that occurs with high intensity resistance exercise. Both strength and muscle size increase, making it a very effective training tool for those in the body building community and many other sports. But it is not just weight lifters that can benefit from this technique. There has been significant success using BFR training for rehabilitation as well.

BFR for Rehab

For the same reasons that BFR works for building larger muscles at the gym, it is also beneficial for those recovering from an injury. There have even been positive results using BFR to reduce muscle loss and strength after complicated ACL surgeries or when a limb is confined to a cast without exercise. The restriction of venous blood flow seems to increase muscle protein synthesis, especially when combined with resistance training.

For rehabilitation, this can lead to quicker recovery from injuries that have resulted in loss of muscle size and strength. Using BFR in conjunction with physical therapy and rehabilitation training can reduce the amount of time and exercise needed to rebuild muscle in the affected areas. The scope of how this method can be used in injury and surgical recovery is expanding, as more is understood about how BFR affects the muscles and healing process.

To use BFR in either muscle building or muscle rehabilitation, you must understand the correct way to restrict the blood flow. The band must be tight enough to inflict pressure on the veins, yet not so tight as to restrict atrial blood flow. The correct placement, pressure and even width of the band are all important to achieve results.

At Stratton Sport & Spine, we believe in using every tool and technique available to get the best results for our clients, including new options like BFR. To learn more about BFR and other services we offer, call our office today.  

November 04, 2015