What is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy?
At Lighthouse Physical Therapy we utilize the “Owens Recovery Science” Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Program. BFR is a technique that utilizes highly specialized blood pressure cuffs to occlude partial blood flow during exercise. These specialized blood pressure cuffs self-correct to your changing blood pressure to impede venous blood return while maintaining arterial flow. This allows for the accumulation of exercise metabolites and an exaggerated physiologic training response at lower loads. This allows for strength gains within a much shorter period of time at a load that can be accommodated with any stage of rehab!
How is this different from traditional exercise?
With traditional exercise, it takes 6-8 weeks on average to develop muscular hypertrophy (increase in muscle size/strength). However, with BFR it only takes 1-3 weeks to improve strength and increase muscle size. It is important to be overseen by a medical professional when performing BFR to ensure that the blood flow restriction is at the proper level to prevent adverse reactions and to ensure its effectiveness.
Why is increasing muscle size/strength useful for me?
As a Physical Therapist, we look holistically to determine what the imbalance in the body is and correct it. The problems can fall into many systems such as neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, integumentary, etc. If the problem is musculoskeletal in nature and certain muscles are weak or pulling you “out of alignment,” then BFR can be critical to early rehab.
Following surgery BFR can be especially useful. Following surgery, you will be immobilized for a period of time that will vary depending on the procedure performed. This immobilization will lead to “myostatin” accumulation. When “myostatin” builds up it will break down muscle. The term, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” rains true in this case. This is where BFR comes in. The use of BFR has been scientifically proven to decrease myostatin levels and in turn, allow for muscle retention following surgery. In addition, BFR upregulates the production of Human Groth Hormone (HGH), IGF-1, and VEGF, which all work to improve tissue healing. Therefore, by using the Owens Recovery Science BFR system, we can speed up your recovery!
Is BFR a proper treatment for me?
BFR has been scientifically proven to be healthy and effective treatment for the following populations:
- Disuse, atrophy and/or general weakness.
- Athletes recovering from injury or who cannot yet tolerate high intensity training
- Post-operative injuries such as ACL reconstruction
Before treatment, a full cardiovascular and neurological exam will be performed to ensure you are a safe candidate for BFR. Your safety is our number one priority!
Is Blood Flow Restriction Safe?
Many large studies have demonstrated the safety of BRF such as:
- Poton and Polito discovered that lower values of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate following BFR (20% 1RM) training when compared with traditional, high-intensity (70-80% 1MR) strength work. **This means that the blood pressure and heart rate of the participants was actually lower when performing BFR vs traditional weight training
- “In a systematic review of safety issues related to BFR training, Loenneke et al. evaluated cardiovascular stress, oxidative stress, muscle damage and nerve conduction and concluded that BFR is a safe training alternative for individuals regardless of age and training status when used in a controlled environment by trained and experienced personnel.”