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Science Behind Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

Blood flow restriction builds muscle faster without heavy lifting. It is a popular and effective training method for athletes, healthy and elderly individuals and is also valuable in rehabilitation medicine. New research reports it is beneficial to cardiovascular health, has potential applications in treating diabetes, and may be valuable in neuromuscular disorders.

How does blood flow restriction work?

Blood flow restriction reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the muscle while it is being exercised, which can lead to an increase in metabolic stress and muscle damage. When muscles are damaged it stimulates the body to repair and rebuild the muscles. Heavy lifting is usually necessary to achieve this result. However, blood flow restriction produces muscle growth and strength gains when the exercise is performed with lighter weights. The bottom line is that blood flow restriction delivers the benefits of heavy weightlifting without the risks. This makes it ideal for people who can’t lift heavy weights. Blood flow restriction prevents muscle atrophy and builds muscle.

Blood flow restriction has been shown to be effective for improving muscle size, strength, and endurance in a variety of populations, including older adults and those with various medical conditions. It can improve mobility and reduce the risk if falls and enhance rehabilitation after surgery or injury.

What is the science supporting blood flow restriction?

The science of blood flow restriction (BFR) is a growing field of study that seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms by which restricting blood flow to a working muscle can improve muscle function and growth.

BFR has been shown to be safe and effective therapy various conditions, including:

  1. Blood flow restriction can help to prevent muscle wasting and promote muscle growth, especially in older individuals and people with limited mobility. It can also help in cases where the patient has been immobilization from pain and recovery.
  2. Blood flow restriction can help to improve strength and endurance in athletes and people who engage in physical activity.
  3. Blood flow restriction improves functional sports performance including jumping, running, and sprinting, in healthy athletes.
  4. Blood flow restriction can reduce rehabilitation time after surgery or injury.
  5. Blood flow restriction has been used to aid in the rehabilitation of athletes after injury, as well as to treat conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and rotator cuff tears.
  6. Blood flow restriction has been used to help manage chronic pain and reduce the need for pain medication.
  7. It has also been shown to be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as knee osteoarthritis, where weight-bearing exercise may not be possible or safe.
  8. Blood flow restriction with low intensity resistance training can safely lead to increased lower extremity strength and function in people with Parkinson’s Disease.
  9. Studies report that BFR training increased muscle size and strength in upper body muscles including the chest and shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
  10. A recent study reports that the benefits of blood flow restriction extend beyond training. It can improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce pain and has benefits for postoperative rehabilitation.
  11. A 2022 study reports that blood flow restriction can decrease recovery time in postoperative orthopedic rehabilitation as well as injury prevention.
  12. A 2022 study found use after osteotomy or any procedure where bone drilling is used showed improved bone health.
  13. A 2019 study reports that blood flow restriction can improve quadriceps muscles and physical function after total knee replacement.
  14. Another 2019 study reports that blood flow restriction benefit extend beyond early postoperative recovery after ACL ligament reconstruction.
  15. A 2023 study reports that blood flow restriction benefits include decreased pain, improved function and quality of life for patients with neuromuscular disorders.
  16. A 2022 and a 2021 study reports that blood flow restriction with Low intensity training can be used for people with MS, and Parkinson’s.
  17. A 2021 study found that blood flow restriction with Low intensity resistance training may be helpful for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Schedule a consultation

At CAO Sports Performance we can teach you to workout smarter not harder, and recovery your strength and endurance after injury or surgery.  The team of physical therapist at CAO Sports Performance & Physical Therapy are well trained and experience in providing Blood Flow Restriction Therapy. Schedule a physical therapy appointment to learn more about Blood Flow Restriction Therapy at one of our offices in California, Leonardtown, or Waldorf, Maryland. We provide the highest level of physical therapy care in Maryland.

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