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Why BFR?

BFR shows amazing potential in the sports medicine world by allowing a patient to improve hypertrophy (muscle growth) and strength without stressing or overloading their joints. BFR has been shown to require a substantially shorter period of physical activity to achieve the same muscle growth results (3-6 weeks vs 8-12 weeks).As a patient, this will allow you to rehabilitate more aggressively and decrease muscle atrophy, even when you have load/weight bearing restrictions secondary to your surgical healing process.

How does it work?

By reducing blood flow, one can create positive effects that will allow for a hypertrophy and strength response to the muscles that you would traditionally need a heavy load to achieve.

Studies show that working out at 80% of your one repetition maximum lift allows for hypertrophy, with BFR, working out at just 20% of this 1 rep max allows for the same hypertrophy response.

The Science

  • BFR allows for the use of Type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibers faster and more effectively
  • Increase in muscle protein synthesis
  • Increase in lactate to help with motor recruitment
  • Increase in growth hormone (by 1.7x) and other anabolic (positive) muscle growth factors
    • Growth hormone plays a role in collagen synthesis which could help with bone healing and plays a role in joint and tendon health
  • Increased cell swelling, increased satellite cell pool to allow for muscle memory
  • Decreased myostatin which leads to an increased ability for muscle hypertrophy and a decreased chance for fibrosis after injury
  • BFR creates an analgesic affect to reduce pain

Side Effects

  • Fatigued muscle
  • Mild soreness
  • Small chance of residual swelling in limb
  • Studies show no greater risk of blood clot

Written by WES RIGGS, PT, DPT

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