Blood Flow Restriction
Muscle pain and weakness are common after injury. Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training is a technique that is becoming more popular to optimize strength gains in a short period of time, all while minimizing the muscle soreness that usually accompanies strength training. This is particularly advantageous in the rehabilitation of injured muscles or joints. To increase strength and hypertrophy, a person generally needs to lift close to their 1 repetition max for a given exercise (typically greater than 70%). However, with BFR training, one can achieve significant strength and hypertrophy gains with loads as low as 20% of their 1RM.
How does it work? BFR training involves the application of a specialized tourniquet system to an extremity (upper arm or leg), that inflates to reduce blood flow to the exercising extremity. By restricting blood flow to the exercising area, byproducts of the muscle’s energy expenditure build up in the area, leading to the initiation of muscle protein synthesis (the driver for strength gain and muscle growth). BFR has not only a valuable place in injury recovery, but also in maintaining strength during a competitive season without the muscle damage and soreness that typically accompanies normal strength training. Ask your provider if Blood Flow Restriction training may be helpful in your treatment and recovery.
Many of us obtain injuries that are self-induced or no fault of our own, but your body will recover in similar ways. Multiple ways to avoid or limit aggravating your injury again is to continue to strengthen weaker muscles, stretch tight muscles, creating a balance across each joint or multiple joints, and master biomechanics in various strengthening activities.
With board certified physical therapists who are experts in biomechanics, a gait or running analysis may be beneficial to help prevent or avoid aggravating injuries while training for that next 5k, 10k, or marathon. Not only will a running analysis be performed from multiple angles, but a comprehensive examination to assess your strengths and weaknesses will also be performed. Furthermore, a comprehensive program will be created tailored to your goals to improve your strength, endurance, and ease with running.