Physiotherapists have a firm foundation in anatomy, physiology, therapeutic exercise and the cardiorespiratory system, as well as clinical reasoning, which are the components of the safe application of blood flow restriction training. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), blood flow restriction training is part of the scope of practice of a licensed physical therapist. Under the APTA, additional BFR certification is NOT required, however, therapists must be competent and follow evidence-based practice. Blood flow restriction (or “BFR”) is a physical therapy modality that restricts blood flow to a muscle.
BFR requires the application of a device similar to a blood pressure cuff or tourniquet to securely compress the blood vessels underneath. The goal is to apply enough pressure to completely restrict venous blood flow (blood LEAVES the muscle), while allowing arterial blood flow (blood enters the muscle). When done correctly, blood ends up accumulating in the muscle beyond the tourniquet, creating a hypoxic environment in which the tissue is deprived of oxygen. This lack of oxygen is said to increase growth hormones, muscle hypertrophy and muscle strength.
During BFR training, a patient or athlete exercises with a narrow elastic band around the upper parts of the exercising arm or leg. This band partially restricts venous blood flow, but does not affect arterial flow to the limb. This produces a systemic response compared to heavy weight training. Performing high repetitions of a particular exercise while wearing the elastic band and wearing light weights will allow the patient to receive the strengthening benefits of lifting heavy objects without the stress to tissues that may be healing from a recent injury or surgery.
Blood flow restriction training can help patients make greater gains in strength training while lifting lighter loads, thus reducing overall stress placed on the limb. BFRT works by decreasing blood flow to working muscles with the goal of promoting hypertrophy and preventing disuse atrophy of muscles. Under the guidance of a trained professional, blood flow restriction is a very safe and effective tool. This allows some blood flow to occur, making it safe for the muscle and structures below the tourniquet.
A novel treatment not long ago, blood flow restriction training is rapidly being used by more and more physiotherapists. Blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT) is achieved by applying external pressure on the limbs through a cuff while performing rehabilitation. Effectiveness of low-load resistance training with blood flow restriction in women with risk factors for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Physiotherapist training provides physiotherapists with the necessary knowledge (muscular and vascular anatomy, and physiology and physiology of exercise), as well as the skills (prescribing therapeutic exercise, monitoring physiological vital signs and blood flow) to perform and control this type of exercise therapeutic.
Traditional strength training requires a minimum of 60% of a person's maximum of 1 repetition and at least 8-12 weeks in duration to see physical adaptation. Blood flow restriction training allows to increase muscle hypertrophy and muscle recruitment with the use of lighter loads compared to traditional strength training. .