Want a sure fire way to increase muscle mass? Read on about Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

Blood Flow restriction training, what is it?

Blood flow restriction training (BFRT) is a modality that is used while strength training that works to reduce the amount of blood flowing into and out of your limbs through a personalized tourniquet system. The Delphi Personalized Tourniquet System used here at Well Balanced is a state of the art medical device that adjusts the system pressure throughout treatment, giving the most accurate and effective treatment possible.

How does it work?

BFRT works to induce a ‘hypoxic state’ in your muscles, meaning they are operating with less oxygen. While this seems like it would be dangerous, it actually primes the muscle tissue itself to adapt more quickly, having to work harder and therefore grow stronger with less work! BFRT uses a strength training repetition structure of 30-15-15-15 (75 total) for 6-8 minutes of work! It is a great bang for your buck, allowing you to get more for less.

Why is it helpful for me?

When we are in a state of injury or pain the muscle, ligament and tendon tissues in our bodies can sometimes become sensitized and have trouble growing stronger or larger due to an inability to tolerate certain activities, loads or positions. BFRT works to use only 20-30% of your maximum load tolerance to achieve strength gains like you lifted 85-90%! Research has also shown that pain sensitivity levels reduce following a bout of BFRT, helping you get back to the activities that you love pain-free!

Is it safe?

Yes! BFRT has been shown to reduce post-operative tissue scarring, risk of blood clots and infection through up regulation of various hormones. The width of the cuff decreases surface area pressure, reducing risk of skin damage from the cuff itself. Your physical therapist will screen you before use to make sure that BFRT is an appropriate modality for you. You may feel increased heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, tingling or itching and/or muscle discomfort during training – please let your provider know if you are experiencing these symptoms and training can be ceased immediately if needed. 

BFRT Aftercare

Due to the breakdown of muscle tissue with strength training, especially with BFRT, supplementing extra protein following training will increase the effectiveness of this intervention. It is recommended to consume 20-30 grams of protein every 4 hours after BFRT usage for at least 24 hours. It is generally recommended to get 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, even without use of BFRT. Circulation positive techniques like walking may also be beneficial to get blood flowing and to reduce lactic acid build-up.

Written by Dr. Mariel Hammond Doctor of Physical Therapy who works at Well balanced Center for Integrated Care