Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) therapy utilizes an FDA-approved occlusion cuff to decrease blood flow to a limb for positive exercise results. In a muscle that cannot be loaded with heavyweight due to injury or surgery BFR therapy is the most effective alternative to improve strength and decrease muscle wasting. By restricting blood flow to the muscles of that limb the muscle is tricked into thinking that it is undergoing significant breakdown. This stimulates the muscle to signal a greater response for repair although no true damage is occurring. The body will release growth factors as well as begin a repair cascade that mirrors that of lifting heavyweights. This technique has been shown to decrease return to activity time in many post-surgical conditions in which the joint cannot be loaded with this heavyweight. BFR therapy is also a very effective recovery tool used with an athletic population undergoing intense training. By training with BFR therapy on recovery days further stimulate repair of the muscles without any further muscle tissue breakdown. This improves recovery time and allows a faster return to intense training/activity.
A problem in our profession is that in order to increase muscle size and strength, it is well established that you need to overload muscle tissue to stimulate growth. However, a lot of our patients, either due to injury or pain, cannot tolerate the loads necessary to gain muscle strength. But using a new concept called Blood Flow Restriction Therapy, we are able to get similar gains without as much resistance. By occluding some arterial blood flow, we can use light resistance to build the same amount of strength without being worried about re-injury.