Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Therapy is a limited occlusion of arterial and venous blood flow by applying a tourniquet to the upper or lower extremity (arm or leg). In other words, it decreases blood flow to working muscles in order to promote growth of muscle cells and prevent muscle atrophy or wasting. It creates the same kind of pressure on a muscle that occurs with strenuous exercises, but without all of that strain. BFR is typically used with low-load resistance or endurance training. However, studies have shown that using it at rest with the compression alone is just as effective.
The compression device works similarly to a blood pressure cuff. The compression device applies a pressure high enough to decrease blood flow by 30-50% in the upper extremity and 50-80% in the lower extremity. The cuff is typically placed as high up on the arm and leg.
Blood Flow Restriction Therapy is commonly used when a patient needs to preserve or improve strength but is unable to tolerate the heavy loads required for traditional strength training. BFRT is used for most post-operative conditions, including:
BFRT can also be used in the elderly population who may be experiencing deconditioning and want to begin strengthening again.
Many people wonder how safe BFR is when they hear the words “occlude” and “restrict” blood flow. There are hundreds of studies and countless clinical applications of BFR over the past 10 years have established a strong safety record. The potential for development of a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) with BFR has been thoroughly researched and risks are minimal.
BFR should only be performed in a controlled environment by trained professionals. Of course, it is not for everyone and there are precautions & contraindications. You’re likely not a good candidate for BFR therapy if you have any of the following conditions:
If you are interested in Blood Flow Restriction Therapy, please reach out or make an appointment with your local Therapydia clinic. Our certified & trained physical therapists will determine if BFR therapy is right for you and help implement it into your routine so you can get stronger and achieve your goals.
Jessica recently moved to Seattle from Boston, MA and is excited to join the Therapydia team. Her treatment experience includes orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, and vestibular therapy. Jessica received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2016. She has completed the Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and is in the process of completing a Comprehensive Vestibular Rehabilitation certification. Jessica believes in empowering and inspiring patients to take control of their health through education, movement, and exercise. She enjoys treating patients of all ages and levels while utilizing soft tissue techniques, neuromuscular re-education, balance training as well as therapeutic exercise. In her free time, Jessica enjoys yoga, dancing, kayaking, and hiking with her dog!
Same-day or next-day appointments are available for new patients.
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