What is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?


What is BFR?

BFR or Blood Flow Restriction is a new modality that is moving very quickly into the mainstream consciousness of the rehab and performance world. The science has been around for some years but the research is now telling us that there may be tons of benefits to this treatment modality. In this blog we will describe what Blood Flow Restriction is and explain some of its benefits.

Blood Flow Restriction Technique

Blood Flow Restriction sounds like a disease or something scary but it actually may be very beneficial to add to your rehab or training routines. Blood Flow Restriction is described as “The brief and intermittent occlusion of arterial and venous blood flow using a medical device at rest or exercising.” When using this technique you can exercise at significantly less weight and still achieve significant gains in muscle strength and size! For example you can squat with 50 lbs and elicit gains as if you were lifting 150 lbs! Sounds very interesting right? The science originated in Japan many years ago but now is being heavily researched for its proposed benefits.

Benefits of BFR Therapy

Just this year the American Physical Therapy Association stated that BFR is within the scope of physical therapy practice. Since then, some of the leading therapists in the country have adopted this device as part of their practice. It’s benefits have been proven to help athletic populations as well as even helping the elderly populations. Some of the major benefits of BFR include:

  • Improved Bone Density & Function
  • Increased Muscle Size
  • Improved Aerobic Capacity
  • Helps Maintain In-Season Muscle Mass and Strength
  • Helps Preserve Muscle Mass and Strength during forced inactivity (immobilization and/or bedrest)

As you can see, there are tons of benefits to using this medical device during your training or rehabilitation. The benefits come with very little downside. Once acclimated to BFR you can expect very little soreness and very little muscle damage while using this device. This is a game changer for anyone looking to maintain strength following an injury or someone who is looking to increase strength without using heavy resistance. 

Who Needs BFR Therapy?

Let’s give you an example of how and when to use BFR. If you or anyone you know has suffered from an ACL tear, you know this can be one of the most devastating injuries to happen to the knee. Following surgery the patient is immobilized and strength training is prohibited to not disrupt the newly repaired knee. With BFR we can start strength training with no resistance very early in the rehab process. Not only can we start resistance training but we can simulate an environment where the client’s muscles, and brain think there is heavy resistance without actually even using weights and without causing tissue damage or harm to the surgical site! Mind Blown! 🤯

BFR Gaining Popularity

With over 820 articles posted in just the last 10 years, BFR is gaining major press in the health and fitness space. Research suggests “Low Load Resistance Training (20-30% of 1 Rep Max) and low load aerobic exercise (<70m/min walk training) which would not be expected to cause considerable increases in muscular quantity or quality under normal circumstances when combined with BFR produced an exaggerated response for maximizing muscle strength and hypertrophy.” 

This device is changing the landscape of the rehab world and the evidence is there to back it up. If you are interested in BFR training or rehab and have some questions please don’t hesitate to give our team a call today. At Fit Club in Brooklyn and NYC, we are available for phone consultations and will answer all your BFR, health and fitness related questions.

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