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  • Writer's pictureJay Kasthuriarachchi

Blood Flow Restriction Training - What Is It And How Does It Work?

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Blood flow restriction training is a relatively new form of treatment, commonly used in post operative rehabilitation.

It is common knowledge that high loads of resistance can promote muscle growth (hypertrophy) and strength. However in those who have chronic health conditions, or coming back post surgery (such as ACL surgery), high loads may not be appropriate.

Generally speaking, high volume/low resistance is good at training endurance, and learning control. However to get strong and build muscle, you need a high level of resistance

With blood flow restriction training, that low intensity exercise gives the benefits of a high intensity or high resistance exercise

Blood flow restriction training lower limb
Lower Limb BFR Training

So how does Bloodflow Resistance Training (BFRT) work?

There are a number of mechanisms by which BFRT is meant to work.

The most common theory is that restricting arterial blood flow (blood moving AWAY from the heart and into the limbs) we create a hypoxic environment (decreased oxygen). This then caused increased fatigue and muscle activation, and therefore the changes in the muscle.

Is there research to back up BFRT?

Research exists to show the benefits for BFRT. It has shown to be particularly effective in the following conditions:

ACL Rehab Post Surgery - Shown to be effective in rebuilding quadricep strength

Anterior Knee Pain - Low loads shown to have similar benefits to high loads in developing muscle strength

Geriatric Population - A lot of older people can't lift heavy weights, and are stuck to body weight. BFR can help enhance the benefits of exercise. Care has to be taken though with other health conditions that they may have.

The Australian Institute of Sport has published training guidelines on how to use BFR appropriately, which we closely adhere to

If you have any questions about BFRT, feel free to contact us!

Want to learn more about ACL injuries? Check out our new ACL specific website here

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