Blood Flow Restriction Training
There has been a tremendous amount of hype around blood flow restriction (BFR) training in the past few years. So, what is BFR, and what is all the hype about?
BFR focuses on wrapping the most proximal part of your limb with an inflatable cuff, a sleeve or an elastic wrap. This is done to restrict your veins from bringing blood back from the working skeletal muscle. The goal is to force blood to build up in your extremities. This buildup of blood allows for better muscle recruitment, healing and hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Although the veins are partially restricted, we do not want to occlude or restrict the arteries. These are the blood flow highways that bring blood to our working skeletal muscle. The way we can avoid arterial restriction is to limit how tight we wrap our leg or arm. Do not wrap your extremity so tight that it causes pain, numbness or tingling in your leg or arm. It is better to be a bit too loose than a bit too tight.
As a general recommendation, BFR can be incorporated into a training program 2-3x/week. Lifts are typically not at high intensities (high percentage of 1-repetition maximum/1-RM). The weight used can be about 25-50% of your 1-RM. The focus is more so on endurance and fatigue. Perform 15-30 repetitions for 3-5 sets or until failure.
Paul Nasri, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Sarrica Physical Therapy & Wellness
Staff Physical Therapist