Ever wonder if there is a way to improve strength and muscle size while recovering from an injury? Enter blood flow restriction training (BFR). Never heard of it? We’re going to cover the basics of BFR training and how you can implement it when recovering from an injury.
To stimulate muscle growth and size, higher levels of strength training intensities are required. Strength training at 60-80% of your 1 repetition maximum (1RM) is the recommended intensity for muscle hypertrophy (growth) to occur. However, if you are dealing with an injury, it’s unlikely you’ll initially be able to lift at that intensity.
Blood flow restriction training can elicit muscular strength and growth with efforts as low as 20-30% of your 1RM. How? Let’s discuss the mechanism of blood flow restriction training and why it can be a game changer for recovery.
Types of Blood Flow Restriction Training
The two methods that most people will use to perform BFR are either using a band or wrap, or they will use a pneumatic device to monitor pressure. Here are three examples:
These are compression bands that we use from our good friend Dr. John Rusin. We’ll use these for the upper extremities if the limb is smaller and the occlusion cuff elite shown below is too bulky.
These bands provide effective blood flow restriction, but we like to monitor blood flow with a device called a handheld doppler ultrasound. This allows us to measure precise blood flow, which is ideal for recovery situations.
If you don’t have this device, you should tighten the cuffs to about a 7 on a scale from 1-10.