Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is the use of a tourniquet to limit the circulation to your limb. By doing so you trap Lactic Acid in your limb. Your brain senses that spike in Lactic Acid and is tricked into thinking you are doing much more mechanical work than you actually. Your body then mounts an exaggerated response to your exercise. As a result you put on more muscle on and gain strength faster.
BFR rehabilitation is the brief and intermittent occlusion of venous blood flow using a tourniquet while exercising. Using this technique you can exercise with significantly lighter weight while still creating a hypertrophy and strength response. Traditionally to get a hypertrophy and strength response in your muscles you would need to lift a heavy load.
The goal is to reduce just enough blood flow to create positive changes. However, the amount of pressure used varies between individuals. The size of you limb, density of the soft tissue in you limb, blood pressure, placement of the tourniquet and the width of the tourniquet cuff all must be taken into account when determining you personalized pressure. Your health care provider will utilize a specialized tourniquet system with a built in monitor to account for these variables. Additionally, your healthcare provider will discuss potential contraindications this treatment with you to determine if you are a candidate.
Once your personalized pressure is determined you will begin specific exercises based on you rehabilitation (or performance) plan. Even thou you are lifting light weight you muscles will begin to feel like they are working very hard. This feeling in your muscle is the buildup of lactate and is the desired response to training. It is important that you complete the total number of sets and repetitions prescribed by your healthcare provider in order to maximize this response. You may also begin to sweat and feel your raise similar to a heavy workout. This is common an expected.
After you have completed your exercise session and you have built up sufficient lactate many positive effects can occur. These include an increase in growth hormone and other anabolic muscle growth factors. There will also be an increase in muscle protein synthesis, you muscles ability to grow. You should discuss proper nutrition guidelines with your healthcare provider to maximize these effects. Adverse side effects are rare. The most common effects after BFR are residual swelling in the limb, a fatigued muscle and possibly some mild soreness. These are transient and usually resolve wishing 24 hours. If you have prolonged swelling, fatigue, or soreness, discuss this with your healthcare provider along with any other concerns you may have.