Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation

Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation Summary

According to Owens Recovery Science, “Blood Flow Restriction(BFR) Rehabilitation is the brief and intermittent occlusion of blood flow using a tourniquet while exercising.” This technique allows individuals to exercise with lighter weight while still creating hypertrophy (growth) and strength response. In a traditional setting, hypertrophy and strength response in muscles only occur with lifting heavy weights. Using Blood Flow Restriction, endurance and strength are gained even though a lighter load is being used. This is clinically significant, because patients are often unable to do heavy lifting due to their condition.

What Does Research Tell Us?

Research suggests that in normal circumstances, low load resistance exercise and low load aerobic exercise, would not cause considerable increases in muscular quantity or quality. However, when combined with BFR they produce an exaggerated response for maximizing muscle strength and hypertrophy. (Slysz 2015)

Low-load resistance muscular training during moderate restriction of blood flow is an effective exercise for early muscular training after reconstruction of the anterior
cruciate ligament. (Ohta 2003)

Blood flow restriction produces positive results through improved strength and hypertrophy after surgery, increased muscle endurance in 1/3 the time, increased strength with only 30% loads, improved muscle activation, improved muscle protein synthesis in the elderly, and increased growth hormone responses.

Determining Pressure and Potential Candidacy

The amount of pressure used for each individual will vary in order to create positive changes. 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 play a role in determining an individual’s pressure.

While there are many benefits to blood flow restriction rehabilitation, health care providers should determine if the individual is a potential candidate. In our next article, we will discuss contraindications, or situations where this type of therapy should not be utilized because of the serious nature of complications.

Please contact John at Galloway Therapy for more information, 501-319-7659 or visit

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