Blood Flow Restriction
Restricted blood flow using a lighter load leads to a faster recovery
Dr. Shields was the first in South Jersey to apply the "Double Cuff" method of BFR.
Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) rehabilitation is the brief and intermittent occlusion of venous (veins) blood flow using a tourniquet while exercising. Using this technique, you can exercise with significantly lighter weight while still creating a hypertrophy (growth) and strength response. Traditionally, to get a hypertrophy and strength response in your muscles, you would need to lift a heavy load, putting increased strain on joints.
The goal is to reduce just enough blood flow to create positive changes. However, the amount of pressure used varies across individuals. The size of your limb, density of the soft tissue in your limb, blood pressure, placement of the tourniquet cuff and width of the tourniquet cuff all must be taken into consideration when determining your personalized pressure. Your physical therapist will utilize a specialized tourniquet system with built in monitor to account for these variables. Additionally, your therapist will discuss potential contraindications to this treatment with you to determine if you are a candidate.
Once your personalized pressure is determined, you will begin specific exercises based on your personalized rehabilitation plan. Even though you are lifting a light weight, your muscle will begin to feel like it is working very hard. This feeling in your muscle is the buildup of lactate and is the desired response of this training. It is important that you complete the total number of sets and repetitions prescribed by your therapist in order to maximize this response. You may also begin to sweat and feel your heart rate rise similar to a heavy workout. This is common and expected.
After you have completed your exercise session and you have built up sufficient lactate, many positive effects can occur. Over 700 studies and research articles have supported BFR’s ability to improve muscle growth, increase strength, and in some cases decrease pain. These results have been seen in multiple populations including athletes, post-operative patients and arthritic adults. BFR is an effective, more efficient way of promoting muscle growth and strength gains in athletes and patients which leads to improved, faster recoveries.