Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is a training method partially restricting Arterial Flow and fully restricting Venous Outflow in working muscles during exercise. BFR dates back to the 60's, Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in Japan, where it was known as “Kaatsu Training,” meaning training with added pressure. Now Kaatsu Training is performed all over the world and is commonly referred to as BFR training (Wernbom et al., 2008; Loenneke et al., 2012d).
Ok so that may sound a little crazy. Working out with restricting blood flow at the limbs?! Hypertrophy & Strength Gains have been extensively documented with BFR Training. In recent years, a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have demonstrated BFR Training to be effective in increasing Skeletal Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in healthy young and older populations, as well as load compromised populations in need of rehabilitation. Various measures of muscle strength have been shown to improve in response to BFR interventions, including dynamic isotonic, isometric, and isokinetic strength. The rate of force development and explosive strength capacity have been shown to improve as well.
It is well documented that muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Adaptations with BFR Training are significantly greater than those achieved with Low-Load Resistance Exercise alone in most studies. The question arises. Why use BFR in a Physical Therapy setting? Someone who is Post-Op ACL would benefit greatly from using BFR. Using low loads to achieve Hypertrophy and achieve Strength in such a short period of time.
Even without load someone recovering from an ACL surgery can still see massive benefits. It has been shown to elicit enhanced local Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity and Cardiovascular improvements such as increased Endothelial-Dependent Vasodilation and Vascular Conductance (∼14%) in as little as 7 days. This could theoretically provide benefits for patients following Orthopedic Surgeries such as Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction and Total Knee Arthroplasty, as less muscle mass and strength need to be regained in the rehabilitation phase.
Disclaimer: If you continue to experience unbearable, reoccurring pain, be sure to schedule an appointment with your Physician or join our Physical Therapy Family and allow us to help you regain function.
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Abe, T., Beekley, M. D., Hinata, S., Koizumi, K., and Sato, Y. (2005a). Day-to-day change in muscle strength and MRI-measured skeletal muscle size during 7 days KAATSU resistance training: a case study. Int. J. KAATSU Train. Res. 1, 71–76. doi: 10.3806/ijktr.1.71
Abe, T., Kawamoto, K., Yasuda, T., Kearns, C. F., Midorikawa, T., and Sato, Y. (2005b). Eight days KAATSU-resistance training improved sprint but not jump performance in collegiate male track and field athletes. Int. J. KAATSU Train. Res. 1, 19–23. doi: 10.3806/ijktr.1.19
Abe, T., Yasuda, T., Midorikawa, T., Sato, Y., Kearns, C. F., Inoue, K., et al. (2005c). Skeletal muscle size and circulating IGF-1 are increased after two weeks of twice daily “KAATSU” resistance training. Int. J. KAATSU Train. Res. 1, 6–12. doi: 10.3806/ijktr.1.6
Abe, T., Kearns, C. F., and Sato, Y. (2006). Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, KAATSU-walk training. J. Appl. Physiol. 100, 1460–1466. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01267.2005
Abe, T., Fujita, S., Nakajima, T., Sakamaki, M., Ozaki, H., Ogasawara, R., et al. (2010a). Effects of low-intensity cycle training with restricted leg blood flow on thigh muscle volume and VO 2max in young men. J. Sports Sci. Med. 9, 452–458.
Centner, C., Wiegel, P., Gollhofer, A., and König, D. (2018a). Effects of blood flow restriction training on muscular strength and hypertrophy in older individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 49, 95–108. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-0994-1