Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)

Are you recovering from an injury? If so, you may be a candidate for blood flow restriction treatments. This may seem counterintuitive – you might ask yourself, “Why would I want to restrict my blood flow? Isn’t it good for blood to circulate?” While these are valid points, blood flow restriction treatments can actually pose several benefits, especially in athletes. Treatments are usually done during exercise, using compression to restrict circulation in the affected area(s). This is done in order to promote hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass) and prevent disuse atrophy (decrease in muscle mass). If you are interested in learning more about blood flow restriction and how it may benefit you, contact Balance Physical Therapy today!

How exactly does blood flow restriction work?

The compression devices used during blood flow restriction treatments are FDA-approved devices that are personalized to your physiology to maximize benefits and ensure safety. The pressure created by these compression devices is high enough to occlude blood flow at 50-80% within the affected muscles.

Blood flow restriction is based on the theory that the treatments lead to a “local hypoxic event,” meaning the tissues in the affected area will be temporarily deprived of oxygen. While this may sound intimidating, the local hypoxia actually helps in accumulating more metabolites, in order to regulate the body’s anabolic response system (also known as the way in which the body gains muscle protein) during exercise. Essentially, restricting the blood flow in the affected area helps to build more muscle protein. Restricting blood flow with low-intensity exercise mimics high intensity, high load exercise and sets off a chain of events that build muscle protein and promote healing of soft tissue, ligament, tendon, and bone.

Physiological responses to blood flow restriction include:

  • Increased anabolic growth factors
  • Fast-twitch fiber recruitment
  • Diminish atrophy & loss of strength from disuse and non-weight bearing after injuries
  • Decreased expression of myostatin (Myostatin impairs muscle growth)
  • Increase strength with only 30% loads
  • Increase hypertrophy with only 30% loads
  • Improve muscle endurance in 1/3 the time
  • Improve muscle protein synthesis in the elderly
  • Improve strength and hypertrophy after surgery
  • Improve muscle activation
  • Increase growth hormone responses

Will blood flow restriction benefit me?

At your initial appointment, one of our physical therapists will conduct a physical evaluation, analysis of medical history, and discussion of symptoms, in order to determine if blood flow restriction will be the best course of treatment for you. Often times we will consult with your physician before moving forward with personalized BFR.

Blood flow restriction has been used to treat many upper or lower body injuries and is often used as a form of rehabilitation prior to and following surgery. The compression device itself measures the amount of pressure that is recommended for each patient in order for you to successfully execute each targeted exercise and gain the desired effects.

When performing the exercises, the intended goal of blood flow restriction is to fatigue the affected area, in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing and tissue-building processes.

Contact Balance Physical Therapy today:

 If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, and you are interested in potentially participating in blood flow restriction treatments, don’t hesitate to contact our physical therapy office today. Our licensed physical therapists are highly trained in performing this treatment and they would love to discuss how it may benefit you personally. Contact Balance Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment and get started on the path toward pain relief, increased strength, and overall functional improvement!

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