Updates on COVID-19  ›


Blood Flow Restriction

Only available at the Stockton-Hammer clinic.

Blood flow restriction therapy, or BFR, is a new method of strength training. We use the only FDA approved cuff to limit some of the blood flow while you exercise. This increases lactic acid and generates a response from your body. Among other things, your body will increase the amount of Human Growth Hormone (HgH) produced. All of which result in positive strength gains.

BFR increases muscle hypertrophy, muscle activation, growth hormone response, strength and endurance through protein synthesis.

This treatment is highly individualized. The percentage of restricted blood flow is continuously monitored by the therapist and the unit which will increase the level of safety.

BFR can be beneficial for everyone from geriatric patients with recent surgery to elite athletes preparing for an event or a professional sport. With an individualized program, significant strength and endurance gains can be seen in everyone.

By decreasing blood flow to the working muscles, lactic acid builds up in your body generating a response. This response leads to:

  • Hypertrophy
  • Protein synthesis
  • Growth hormone and other anabolic growth factors
  • Muscle activation

What is interesting is that you can train with BFR at only a fraction (20-30%) of your normal resistance and get the same benefits (muscle size and strength) without the same protein breakdown common with high load resistance training.

Recent articles have proved that BFR can be beneficial for aerobic endurance. When paired with cycling, it was shown to improve gains in aerobic conditioning. 

During a cycling study in 2010, BFR:

  • increased quadriceps muscle volume
  • increased knee extension strength
  • a 6.4% in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake)
  • increased exercise time to exhaustion

During a walking study in 2010, the BFR group showed an 11.6% improvement in their VO2Max. Another study with paratroopers in the military also showed significant improvements in VO2Max and quadriceps muscle strength.

In summary, BFR is proven to benefit both strength and endurance training. Whether you are a senior looking to improve cardiovascular health or an elite athlete looking to improve their VO2Max and cardiovascular endurance during events, BFR can benefit you.

BFR has been shown to be an effective adjunct to training routines in elite athletes looking to increase strength and/or endurance. 

One benefit noted in the strength and conditioning literature is that there tends to be less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs). This is due to the fact that you are training at only 20% of your 1RM leading to less protein breakdown. Professional athletes have started using this during in-season training routines to get increased HgH without the traditional high load training that tends to decrease in-season.

In addition, BFR provides useful variation to training routines as elite athletes look to maximize the effects of their workouts.

Although a lot of people may view BFR as something that only elite athletes do, it is also very practical in the rehabilitation field. BFR’s origins are in the military for the purpose of limb salvaging for returning troops. 

Many people are unable to lift any significant weight after various types of surgery. This fact dramatically slows down the speed of potential recovery in people of all ages and physical abilities. This leads to increase health care costs and physical/mental decline as well. BFR allows these people to benefit from the strength gains while lifting far lighter weights. In other words, it speeds up their recovery substantially!

In a world where time is so critical and insurance companies are paying for less and less, anything that can speed up the recovery process is well worth utilizing.

BFR can safely be used after many different types of surgeries and injuries all over the body. We use the only FDA approved BFR unit in order to ensure the safety of all our patients and their unique needs.

BFR has been proven to be a safe modality to utilize. The type of BFR unit and the practitioner’s knowledge are absolutely crucial in safely using BFR. We use the only FDA approved BFR unit on the market. There are many “cheaper” versions that do not have the accuracy, reliability, or safety of the unit we use. We strongly discourage the use of various knock-off brands for these reasons.

All of our practitioners are certified to use the unit as it takes a thorough understanding of its functions and mechanisms to use appropriately.

There are some circumstances where BFR is not appropriate. We perform a thorough exam so that we can help determine who is an appropriate candidate for BFR. 

BFR is a powerful and new treatment tool. It can help reduce pain, increase strength, and improve cardiovascular endurance. Although side effects are possible, with a thorough exam and proper use of the equipment, risk of side effects is minimal.

The gains and benefits seen from training with BFR are outstanding and are worth consideration. Whether you are a senior citizen looking to improve walking distance and independence in your community or an elite level athlete competing in professional sports, BFR has a place in your training routine. Talk to a Physical Therapist and see how they can help!   

Movement for Life Physical Therapy is Ready!Are you?

Get Started