Blood Flow Restriction
What Is Blood Flow Restriction therapy?
Blood flow restriction (BFR) therapy is the use of brief and intermittent occlusion of venous blood flow in an extremity using a precise tourniquet while exercising. This technique will allow you to exercise with significantly lighter weights and creating growth and increased strength response. Traditionally, to get the same growth and strength response, you would need to lift a heavier load ... like what bodybuilders do!
How does Blood Flow Restriction work?
The temporary and intermittent low oxygen environment created by our special tourniquets, paired with our personalized exercise programs, triggers a hormonal response in the body and upregulates human growth hormone in a natural and safe way. This is an important whole body systemic effect that helps all patients suffering from muscle and skeletal damage. Blood flow restriction therapy has a variety of applications in physical therapy: from osteoporotic patients, patients with fractures, to weak or deconditioned patients after surgery, to patients suffering from tendonitis.
The effects of BFR are huge and the science is very well established - in fact, researcher and scientist Takarada et al. in 2000 found that " ... additional muscle fiber recruitment associated with occlusion would be one of the factors responsible for the strong effect of low-intensity exercise with occlusion ... in spite of the low level of force generation, occlusion causes the activation of a sufficient number of fast-twitch fibers, which would be one of the requirements for gaining muscular size and strength.
What does Blood Flow Restriction therapy entail?
Blood Flow Restriction therapy involves the use of specialized tourniquet cuffs. Any old tourniquet will not do - the size of your limb, density of soft tissue in your limbs, blood pressure, placement and width of tourniquet cuff all must be taken into account when determining your personalized pressure.
Additionally your physical therapist will discuss with you potential contraindications to this treatment to determine if you are a good candidate for this therapy.
Once your personalized pressure is determined you will begin specific exercises based on your rehabilitation plan. Even though you are prescribed light exercises your muscles will feel like they are working very hard. Your heart rate may also increase like you are exercising more vigorously, which is expected. This fatigue and soreness feeling in your muscles is a desired response of training. Because you are lifting lighter weights, the soreness after exercising will typically not be as severe or intense as if you were lifting heavier weights in the gym.
Are there any side effects to Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?
Adverse side effects are rare. The most common effects after this training is some residual swelling, a fatigued muscle and body and some mild soreness. These effects are transient and usually resolve in 24 hours. Anything outside of these expected effects, please discuss with your Physical Therapist.
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