Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)

What is blood flow restriction (BFR)?

BFR is a type of training that gives you the ability to build muscles in your arms and legs while lifting lighter loads. The BFR technique places less stress on the joints and limbs. It also causes less pain for people rehabilitating from a musculoskeletal condition.   

How does blood flow restriction (BFR) work?

When you use BFR, you exercise your arms or legs while wearing a specialized cuff (similar to a blood pressure cuff) that restricts the blood flow. Your provider puts the cuff around your arms and/or legs, placing it close to your body.

They inflate the cuff to a moderate pressure that allows blood to flow through the arteries (carrying oxygen-rich blood to your muscles), while blocking the blood flowing through your veins toward your heart. 

What are the benefits of blood flow restriction (BFR)?

The change in blood flow combined with exercise triggers complex biochemical interactions that stimulate healing and promote muscle growth. BFR causes an increase in growth factors and stem cells, triggers the production of new blood vessels, and promotes protein synthesis in muscles.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Less pain
  • Faster healing
  • Increase in bone density
  • Increase in muscle growth
  • Increase in muscle strength
  • Less muscle damage when exercising
  • Less soreness after exercise

BFR training may also improve your cardiovascular endurance. 

Who can use blood flow restriction (BFR)?

Athletes and bodybuilders may use BFR as part of their training or muscle building regimen. However, it’s especially beneficial for elderly people who need to restore muscle mass and people with an orthopedic injury or degenerative disease. BFR also improves your recovery when you have it before and after orthopedic surgery.

BFR supports your rehabilitation from conditions such as:

  • ACL tear or ligament reconstruction
  • Meniscal repair
  • Tibia and fibula fractures
  • Achilles tendon repairs
  • Lisfranc (midfoot) fractures
  • Osteochondral fractures (piece of bone tears off)

However, it’s important to get this training from the qualified physical therapists at Back To You Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation because BFR isn’t safe for everyone.

For example, you shouldn’t use BFR if you have heart disease, blood vessel problems, severe hypertension, or diabetes, to name just a few conditions that aren’t compatible with BFR.

To learn if you can benefit from BFR training, call Back To You Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation to book an appointment today.