BFR or blood flow restriction therapy has been around for a long time, but recently, the evidence for its use in the world that is rehabilitation has begun to emerge. The principle is very simple: that the circulation of blood flow is confined to the area of the human body that’s being trained or undergoing rehabilitation in a certain manner to boost the impacts of the training via lower load (less stress).
Is Blood Flow Restriction Effective?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to achieve an increase in muscle size and strength, you want to do 8 to 10 repetitions of an exercise. A moderate to high intensity is deemed to be 65 to 80 percent of their patient’s one rep maximum (the maximum amount of weight a person can lift 1 time). However, the majority of patients that are injured can’t deal with this kind of load, consequently restricting their capacity.
So again we’re faced with the question: Just how can we achieve hypertrophy and gain muscle strength without using heavy loads? The solution involves using a tourniquet to restrict blood flow into a muscle. This technique is known as blood flow restriction training (BFR).
According to the most recent research in the event the appropriate blood flow restriction therapy protocols are utilized, the benefits of the training are equal to those found when using 70 percent of an individual’s maximal load, while using as little as 20 to 30 percent of somebody’s maximum load. The secret is that restricted blood flow training allows healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, to make a localized region of exercise that is anaerobic.
BFR is a tool that uses a doppler and tourniquet system placed on either thigh or the upper arm to limit blood circulation. After this, it begins to create lactate and hydrogen ions and denies the muscle oxygen. This is what causes the “burning” feeling when we lift heavy weights. The burn is simply the response to being in an active environment of the body. During heavy lifting (65-85%), we create small microtraumas in the muscle that the body then repairs by building more muscle. Together with BFR, we are not generating microtraumas at the muscle, so our body does not have to devote the energy to repair the muscle; rather our bodies just focus on creating the muscle.
Second, soreness is not experienced by us as we would when we were lifting weights. This means we can now lift at low loads (15-30%) and basically gain more muscle strength and size, at a quicker manner, as if we were lifting a more heavier load.
As soon as we create lactate, we activate growth hormone release. The release of IGF-1 subsequently stimulates once growth hormone is released. Such enables your muscles ability to activate; this in turn increases muscle protein synthesis, or our stem cells to the muscle. As previously mentioned, if we were to have muscle breakdown, these stem cells could have to concentrate on repairing muscles building. With blood flow restriction therapy or training, we skip the muscle repair and focus on muscle building. This result is not concentrated throughout the exercise, but impacts the tissues and muscles to create the greater benefit of BFR. BFR has shown to have the ability to help in endurance training and coaching, tendon healing and bone recovery.
All of our muscles are produced from other kinds of fibers, including type 1 which are slow to twitch and rely on oxygen and type 2, which are those we’re currently attempting to build with BFR training and fast-twitch fibers. By limiting the blood flow, we create an environment at the muscle group that compels the increase of more fibers that are type 2. Higher strength gains are the outcome because these type 2 fibers normally can produce more force. Another effect of blood flow restriction is that is allows for a synthesis of proteins needed to build and repair muscles and tissues.
In a treatment setting, this helps us achieve the outcomes for patients faster, and in sports it enables the gains to be attained with less strength and less damage to the muscle. That is why pro and college teams are currently turning to BFR as a training principle. In sports, athletes are attempting to come back to the field quicker after suffering trauma or injury from an accident. Some athletes re-injure themselves by lifting. That is really where BFR can come by lifting loads that are lower and receiving the same, or even much better profits. Healthcare specialists will tend to eliminate strength immediately following a sports injury, but they can not exercise at elevated levels. In this manner, they can not only keep the power but build strength in the process although together with blood flow restriction training.
Is Blood Flow Restriction Safe?
You might be thinking that its effects sounds fantastic, but is it safe? The brief answer is yes, but as with any rehab technique, there are precautions which should be taken and it’s recommended to first seek medical attention from a healthcare professional to discuss the option of BFR therapy for you. We certainly don’t recommend that individuals do this by themselves and tie bands around their limbs. In the practice, specialists can track it as you train and use special devices to know exactly how much you need to train to experience its benefits.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sports Care
Athletes engage in a series of stretches and exercises on a daily basis in order to prevent damage or injury from their specific sports or physical activities as well as to promote and maintain strength, mobility and flexibility. However, when injuries or conditions occur as a result of an accident or due to repetitive degeneration, getting the proper care and treatment can change an athlete’s ability to return to play as soon as possible and restore their original health.