Incorporating Blood Flow Restriction Training Into Your Practice
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As a physical therapist, providing patients with beneficial rehab techniques has its constant challenges, especially for patients recovering from significant injuries or surgeries. For them, their road to recovery is a long process. A growing trend looking to speed up recovery is blood flow restriction (BRF). Its low impact loads combined with producing an ideal environment for muscle strength makes it a revolutionary approach to rehab therapy.
What Is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?
Blood flow restriction therapy, also known as occlusion training, is the process of mitigating blood flow to and from a working muscle while performing low resistance training. Blood flow resistance training is proving itself to be a worthwhile form of rehabilitation training in addition to its uses in weight training. Before incorporating BFR training into your practice, refer to your state’s practice act and laws.
How Blood Flow Restriction Training Works
To perform blood flow restriction, a BFR band or cuff is affixed onto a limb to reduce the amount of venous blood flow from a muscle while allowing blood to flow to the muscle. The pressure applied by the cuff is typically between 40%–80%; factors that determine pressure percentage include the cuff width, cuff material, and the limb’s characteristics.1 After the cuff has been applied with the appropriate pressure, patients then typically perform low load exercises, where the load weight can be as low as 20% of the one-rep max.2
Benefits of Using Blood Flow Restriction
Improved Recovery Times
Increased Muscle Strength
Minimizes Joint Strain
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1 Patterson, Stephen D, et al. “Blood Flow Restriction Exercise: Considerations of Methodology, Application, and Safety.” Frontiers in Physiology, Frontiers Media S.A., 15 May 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530612/.
2 Cook, Terri. “Blood-Flow Restriction Therapy Rapidly Rebuilt My Body.” Outside Online, Outside Magazine, 22 May 2019, www.outsideonline.com/2393910/blood-flow-restriction-therapy.