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March 3, 2021 Physical Therapy of Milwaukee

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy


What is Blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT)


Blood flow restrictions 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 torniquete 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


In traditional resistance training, muscle development requires exercise loads of 70% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) stress is placed on connective tissues and joints detrimental to the elderly 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.



A light warm-up of 5 minutes is recommended such as a bike, treadmill or elliptical followed by 15 unwrapped repetitions with the weight that will be used during BFR training. Higher repetitions are advised such as 3×20 in order to improve muscle fatigue, soreness is to be expected. The blood flow restrictions bands can be placed on upper or lower proximal extremities such as biceps or quaraceps.



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. If you are interested in this type of treatment give us a call today!

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or complimentary consultation!