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Blood Flow Restriction Training

Bone and Joint Specialists Physical Therapy is one of the few therapy offices in Winchester, Virginia to offer Blood Flow Restriction Training.

Also known as Occlusion Training or BFR Training, this therapeutic exercise allows us to work your muscles while protecting injuries and surgical repairs. 

By working with light weights and low-pressure cuffs, we can simulate a heavy workout.  This can prevent the atrophy that often follows surgery and immobilization. And we can start to rebuild strength much earlier, more safely.

Blood Flow Restriction Training FAQ

Blood Flow Restriction Training utilizes low pressure inflatable cuffs while performing light exercise.  This allows blood into the working muscle, but slows the blood coming out of it.  That leads to increased levels of metabolites, tricking your body into thinking you worked out much harder.  This stimulates local and systemic signals to grow and maintain muscle mass.  It can be nearly as effective as high intensity heavy lifting.  

We often use BFR to stop atrophy after surgeries like ACL, Achilles, or biceps tendon repairs.  It can be used to keep muscle mass while you are in a cast and make your recovery faster.  It can be used to help rehab from tendinitis or other problems not requiring surgery.  It can allow people with arthritis to keep their strength and physique.  And it’s a great way for senior citizens to regain strength and independence lost through age or illness.

Athletes can benefit from BFR by continuing to train through an injury when high level resistance training should be avoided.  BFR can also add the extra “edge” to training. BFR training can complement an athlete’s current training program. It can be safely added to the end of a workout session to promote further muscle protein synthesis, with no additional recovery time. BFR can be used on days off for accessory muscle building.   BFR has demonstrated increases to performance adaptations and may show more undiscovered positive results.

After surgery, you may need to protect the repaired tissue for weeks or months after surgery.  You may even be immobilized in a cast or brace.  During this time, your muscles may atrophy significantly.  BFR training allows us to trick your body into maintaining your muscle mass without risking injury to the surgical repair.  This can be of great benefit when recovering from ACL surgery, biceps repair, or ankle fractures.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy is highly skilled in anatomy and palpation of body parts.  A person must be trained in palpating distal pulses in order to ensure the cuff is not cutting off blood supply.  Additionally, a Physical Therapist is trained in selecting the proper amount of resistance and knowing how to protect your surgical repair or healing injury. 

BFR training does not hurt, however, some patients who are not conditioned or practice high level resistance training may find BFR uncomfortable. Side effects may include muscle soreness comparable to heavy lifting despite low resistance. BFR is very safe. Studies have shown little to no risks. Research has shown the risk of thrombus formation is less than 0.06%.  And low-level venous compression is actually used after most surgeries to help prevent blood clots.

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