Blood flow restriction training (BFRT) is a treatment method that enables therapists to mimic the stress and biological response that high-load exercise causes within the body. Using a device similar to that of a blood pressure cuff, external pressure is first applied to a targeted muscle or muscle group. This action allows blood to flow into the restricted region while also reducing the amount of blood that flows out. Once the cuff is in place, patients perform exercises using either light weight or body weight, as directed by their provider.
In clinical research, BFRT has been shown to:
- Enhance muscle strength.
- Increase muscle volume.
- Facilitate the development of new and healthy blood vessels.
- Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improve bone mineral density.
BFRT is especially helpful in the physical therapy and rehabilitation setting as it allows for therapists to create the necessary environment for hypertrophy (muscle growth) without compromising a repaired ligament, tendon or joint. This technology has the potential to speed up recovery times and prevent post-surgical or post-injury muscle loss.