Blood Flow Restriction training (BFR) is a style of resistance training that utilizes the custom of wrapping a kind of tourniquet around a limb and training with a relatively light load. It is a practice that has gained quite a bit of popularity in the resistance coaching realm over the last few decades and is something which can benefit training protocols.
If used properly, practical blood flow restriction training (BFR) could help you through hypertrophy plateaus, pack on additional mass and even aid in growth or maintenance of muscle mass during times in which lifting heavy weight is either laborious or impossible. Let’s understand what’s actually going on in the body when it is used by you.
As mentioned prior, BFR demands using some form of tourniquet around a limb so as to inhibit blood flow. However, not all of blood flow is restricted. The purpose of the tourniquet is to prevent what’s known as ‘venous return’ . When you contract a muscle, more blood than ordinary is shuttled to provide the muscle with a myriad of different nutrients, such as oxygen. Typically, if un-wrapped, the blood then returns to the heart through veins so as to rid the muscle of metabolic bi-products like carbon dioxide, lactate, and hydrogen ions (the acidity that makes your muscle “burn off”).
The role of using some form of tourniquet is to inhibit the ‘venous return’ of blood to the heart while still allowing arterial blood circulation to the muscle. By doing this, the blood continues to be shuttled to the muscle and pools without having the ability to escape. It’s believed that the accumulation of blood and bi-products contributes to activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which is typically thought to only happen after these are fatigues or due to using fairly heavy loads. By doing this, you increase the potential for the muscle t.
In fact, a recent analysis by suggested that when participants used the same load (40% of 1 RM) and either used a tourniquet or didn’t, the team using BFR observed the same gains in strength and muscle volume as the group that did not. The catch: the BFR team had finished significantly less repeats, and thus less quantity, in addition to less time under pressure. This implies the exact same advantage was observed by them, but achieved in time.
The research appears to indicate that you could complete less work in order to achieve the very same results. Utilizing blood flow restriction training is ideal for times that you are fatigued or simply too sore to execute resistance training that is significant or are just at a time crunch. Additionally, using BFR is a candidate for instances when usage of significant weight is apparently impossible or ill advised, for example post-injury or operation, or being elderly.
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Considering the nature of this kind of training, BFR requires using some form of tourniquet. The easiest and most convenient way to achieve this would be to use some form of strap like an ace bandage or weightlifting knee wraps. If you are able to discover a strap using a comparable elasticity diameter that is smaller, this would be more optimal. When wrapping your limbs, you want to prevent wrap ‘over’ the limb. Otherwise you can risk limiting the muscle’s capacity to contract and your range of movement.
You will want to put the wrap around the proximal portion of the muscle you’re working. This implies over the muscle and close to the torso. If you are thinking about training forearms and your biceps, you should set the wrap beneath the deltoid. Using this technique for the body requires some careful instructions. Some experts say that when practicing BFR for the body, your leg ought to be wrapped close to the groin area, over the quadriceps. If you’re training calves this would be included. When training BFR for calves, its wise to wrap over the calf and beneath the knee. This is because the common wraps are not really large enough to effectively wrap over the quadriceps.
When wrapping your muscle, remember to keep in mind that you aren’t attempting to completely restrict blood flow. You still require blood circulation to the muscle. As such, when you wrap, you should try to shoot for wrapping the arm at about a 7 out of 10, with ten being very painful and a complete loss of blood flow. If your arm is totally asleep before you even begin training, the wrap is too tight. If you complete a set of exercises and your arm is not pumped or fatigued, then you’ve probably not wrapped the bands tight enough.
First and foremost, a majority of experts concur that this kind of training is in fact a safe practice provided that it’s executed properly. To be able to maintain proper safety, ensure that you have not completely restricted blood circulation. Further, as soon as you’ve finished your sets, be certain that you remove the wrap in order to give the muscle blood supply and permit the used blood to be recycled. Should you have them too tight or keep the wraps on too long, you run the danger of inducing tissue and cell death. This isn’t advised. Further, if you have higher blood pressure or heart problems BFR, or blood flow restriction, training is not suggested.
There’s also some evidence to indicate that musculature which isn’t directly occluded, for example chest and shoulders, can experience some benefit from BFR. That is interesting because there was a long belief that advantage would be seen by muscle below the tourniquet. A current meta-analysis indicated that despite evidence, the indirect muscle (chest and shoulders) may see increased benefit in comparison to the same training without a tourniquet. If you are feeling tired, yet still want to get a chest and shoulder pump, then it may help you to wrap your arms.
Finally, BFR shouldn’t be used only in place of different sorts of training. Outcomes like power, power output, hypertrophy and force production rely on coaching specificity and varying immunity (i.e to be able to maximize strength, you need to train with heavier loads to get lower repetitions). The study suggests that blood flow restriction training could be as good as other types of instruction, not exceptional. Therefore, blood flow restriction, or BFR, training may be a useful tool within a resistance-training schedule that is well-rounded.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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