Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)

Active Physical Therapy is the only clinic in Columbus, Ohio to directly provide clients with Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training. Blood Flow Restriction Training is a form of safe and low intensity resistance exercise. BFR systematically utilizes a cuff while performing an exercise to decrease blood flow to the working area, thus creating an optimal environment for muscles even under a low load.  When applied correctly, BFR has demonstrated enhanced muscle growth, strength, and oxygen delivery and utilization. BFR is appropriate for all populations recovering from an injury.  Check out our the frequently asked questions below or call us to learn more about how BFR could benefit you!

FAQ

What is BFR?

Blood Flow Restriction Training is a form of safe and low intensity resistance exercise. BFR systematically utilizes a cuff or tourniquet while performing an exercise to decrease blood flow to the working area  thus creating an optimal environment for muscles even under a low load.  When applied correctly, BFR has demonstrated enhanced muscle growth, strength, and oxygen delivery and utilization.

 

Who is BFR training for and who is it not for?

BFR can be used in a number of populations. After performing a thorough evaluation and examination, your doctor of physical therapy will decide if you are an appropriate candidate for BFR.  A great candidate for BFR is someone who cannot tolerate, or is unable to perform high level resistance training. For example, post surgical AMI of quads, acute injury, and chronic disease. Contraindications to BFR include history of deep-vein thrombosis, pregnancy, varicose veins, high blood pressure, and cardiac disease. Beyond listed contraindications, special consideration should be given regarding the individual’s exercise history. 

 

How can athletes benefit from BFR training?

Athletes can benefit from BFR by continuing to train through an injury when high level resistance training should be avoided.  BFR can also add the extra “edge” to training. BFR training can compliment an athlete’s current training program. It can be safely added to the end of a workout session to promote further muscle protein synthesis, with no additional recovery time. BFR can be used on days off for accessory muscle building.   BFR has demonstrated increases to performance adaptations and may show more undiscovered positive results.

 

How might a post-op patient benefit from BFR training?

After surgery, especially of the knee, quadricep strength declines over time. Traditional resistance training to strengthen the quad uses inappropriately high external loads that could endanger the operated limb. BFR provides internal load (ischemia) while keeping the external load (resistance) at a minimum.

 

What is the difference between voodoo flossing and BFR training?

Voodoo floss claims to speed up recovery, decrease healing time and use as a warm-up or cool down by restricting blood flow to an area. The main differences between voodoo floss and BFR are voodoo floss does not set any parameters on blood flow. Second, BFR is used during exercise to increase muscle hypertrophy when high resistance training is contraindicated.

 

Why is it important to utilize BFR under the supervision of a physical therapist?

A Doctor of Physical Therapy is highly skilled  in anatomy and palpation of body parts.  A person must be trained in palpating distal pulses in order to ensure the cuff is not cutting off blood supply to certain body parts.  Additionally, a Physical Therapist is trained in finding a patient’s 1 rep max and prescribing the proper exercise dose and reps appropriate and safe for BFR.

 

Does BFR training hurt? Are there any side effects? What are the risks?

BFR training does not hurt, however, some patients who are not conditioned or practice high level resistance training may find BFR too intense or uncomfortable. Side effects may include muscle soreness comparable to max loading despite low level resistance. BFR is very safe. Studies have shown little to no risks.

 

Does it really work? How long will it take to see results?

The literature demonstrates positive results for BFR in physical therapy. Muscle hypertrophy occurs at 4 weeks or less, where strength gains happen at 10 weeks or later.

 

Can using BFR lead to pulmonary embolisms or blood clots?

Research has shown the risk of thrombus formation is less than .06 percent.