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Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training is a technique that uses blood flow occlusion and low intensity exercise to improve strength and hypertrophy earlier in the recovery process. A specialized cuff is placed on the proximal arm or leg and connected to a BFR unit. The cuff is then inflated and allows for arterial blood to flow into the extremity and restricts outward flow of the venous blood. During exercise, growth hormone is released, which allows the muscles to synthesize protein and build strength with little loading.

BFR has demonstrated strength and hypertrophy gains with loads of as little as 20% of 1 rep max (RM). There are over 820 research studies regarding BFR. Research states: “Importantly, research suggests that low load resistance exercise (20–30% 1 RM) and low load aerobic exercise (<70 m/min walk training), which would not be expected to cause considerable increases in muscular quantity or quality under normal circumstances, when combined with PBFR produced an exaggerated response for maximizing muscle strength and hypertrophy.

BFR can be used by injured individuals, surgical and non-surgical.

Clinically, BFR is used most commonly with:

  • Post-operative knee or ankle repairs Achilles repairs
  • Ankle sprains
  • Total joint arthroplasty
  • Rotator cuff and SLAP repairs Muscle strains
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Amputation
  • Non-weightbearing status

BFR can also be used for older adults with goals of improving their strength, minimizing the normal process of muscle loss due to aging.