What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is a technique that has been around for a long time but has gained a lot of popularity in the rehab and performance space over the past 10-15 years. BFR is the process of reducing blood flow to the affected limb by utilizing pressurized cuffs to allow for muscular strength training at very low levels of resistance. In this article we’re going to discuss the very basics of BFR and why people should consider it, especially when recovering from an ACL reconstruction.

What does BFR feel like?

BFR is NOT meant to cut off all the blood supply to the leg. The premise behind BFR is to create an environment for muscles to work extremely hard but at significantly reduced loads. In order for muscles to get stronger, bigger, and become more durable, normally you need to train them at around 60-80% of what their max effort is. With BFR, the same results can be seen when utilizing as low as 20-30% of their max effort which is a crucial aspect to consider when dealing a post surgical issue.

BFR feels like you are getting an intense workout with the leg that has the cuff on, but with much lower weight.  We first determine what pressure the cuff should be at for your optimal stress on the body part, and then we monitor your vital signs and always ask how you are feeling during the protocol to maximize strength and muscle size.

Who should use BFR?

BFR can be used for people dealing with a nagging injury, for those waiting to get surgery, and also for those who just underwent surgery.  Whether you are experiencing persistent tendon issues, or are fresh off an ACL reconstruction, both scenarios can benefit. Depending on the size of the limb there are different cuff sizes to customize the experience to each person. ACL reconstructions are have high rates of thigh strength deficits due to the surgery itself. BFR can be a great way to mitigate that and enhance it for improved outcomes.

Summary

BFR is a great way to stimulate strengthening effects very early on or even before ACL reconstruction. Creating an environment to enhance strength and muscular size at low levels of resistance is something that is hard to come by. We feel BFR is a crucial aspect of the recovery process both before and after surgery for those dealing with an ACL tear. Send us a message below if you want to talk more about what this plan should look like!