March 3, 2021 Physical Therapy of Milwaukee

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

What is Blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT)?

Blood flow restriction therapy is an innovative training method used for the development of muscle strength, combining venus occlusion and low-load resistance training. BFRT uses muscle anaerobic metabolism causing cellular swelling which increases muscle growth.  BFRT uses a doppler or torniquet similar to blood  pressure cuffs. You can also use an elastic band, the goal is to occlude 50-80% of blood flow to a specific muscle using higher repetitions in order to achieve muscle fatigue and improve muscle growth.

Some contraindications to consider during this type of training include:

  • Impaired circulation
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Open fractures
  • Tumors
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Women who are pregnant

Benefits of Blood flow restriction therapy

In traditional resistance training, muscle development typically necessitates exercise loads equivalent to 70% of one-repetition maximum (1RM), resulting in stress on connective tissues and joints, which can be detrimental to elderly individuals and rehabilitation patients. BFRT allows loads of 20% to 40% of 1RM decreasing joint stress and allowing for improved endurance and strength training. BFR training has shown consistently in the literature to increase muscle strength, hypertrophy, and improve angiogenesis.



It is recommended to start with a light warm-up lasting 5 minutes, such as cycling, treadmill walking, or using an elliptical machine. Following the warm-up, perform 15 unwrapped repetitions with the weight intended for use during Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training. It is advisable to perform higher repetitions, such as 3 sets of 20, to promote muscle fatigue, which may result in expected soreness. Blood flow restriction bands can be positioned on the upper or lower proximal extremities, such as the biceps or quadriceps.



Based on the evidence BFR training has shown to be a great method to use in acute rehabilitation settings, lower extremity surgeries Including ACL reconstruction, Meniscectomy, Hip/knee replacement, Rotator cuff repair or any tendon repair and powerlifting. Blood flow restriction therapy is easily accessible with reliable data demonstrating improvements in muscle growth and strength without the heavy load on joints.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or complimentary consultation!