elder couple with joint pain

One important goal of physical therapy is improving muscular strength. When injured, pain, stiffness, and other similar symptoms are common roadblocks to building back your strength. Blood Flow Restriction Training, otherwise referred to as BFRT, is a common treatment utilized by sports medicine professionals during rehabilitation with both pre and post-op orthopedic injuries. This treatment can also be used to help athletes of all ages to improve their functional outcomes faster than other similar treatments.

What Is BFRT?

BFRT was first pioneered by a United States military research professional who worked with limb salvage patients. This treatment was made to assist in improving limb strength and hypertrophy by using lower training volumes while maintaining MD protocols during the essential “protection” phase for post-op patients.

How Does It Work?

BFRT utilizes a tourniquet-style pressure that safely restricts venous blood flow. Restricted blood flow combined with light resistance exercise facilitates muscle protein synthesis and metabolic accumulation, resulting in similar gains as heavy strength training.

To enhance both muscle mass and strength, high-intensity resistance exercises with loads approximately 70-85 % of 1-Repetition Maximum (1-RM) are recommended. However, heavy-load-resistance exercise may not be possible with injuries that do not allow heavy strength training.

Who Is An Ideal Candidate For BFRT?

An ideal candidate for this treatment is an athlete or post-op patient with an orthopedic dysfunction such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, or joint pain.

What Does BFRT Accomplish?

BFRT accomplished a variety of goals such as:

  • Increasing muscle size, strength, and activation
  • Increasing VO2 max
  • Decreasing scar tissue and pain
  • Increasing collagen synthesis for tendons, cartilage, and bones
  • Reduces post-surgical atrophy
  • Increases anti-clotting factors


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