Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training
Reinventing Strength Training & Physical Therapy
BFR is the application of a specialized tourniquet system to a proximal arm or leg, which is inflated, to a personalized and specific pressure to reduce blood flow to an exercising extremity.
The application is brief and intermittent, typically about six (6) minutes per exercise, but can last up to thirty (30) minutes based on the specific protocol.
With PBFR you can create significant strength and hypertrophy gains with loads as low as 20% 1RM (Owens Science). This allows patients who are injured, dealing with pain management, or still in the acute healing phase to regain strength without damaging tissue.
Physical Therapy & Strength Training:
A Winning Combination
To fully recover from an injury or surgery, it is essential that proper strength and conditioning are achieved. Strength is necessary for many daily activities that we take for granted when healthy and pain-free.
Unfortunately, many patients are taught to avoid activities when they are dealing with a painful injury or condition. This can be useful in the short term, but it then becomes vital to build back the capacity and strength in the very same activities. While some health providers and physical therapists provide chronic limitations for their patients, it is my goal to push patients to the highest level of function possible. This can be done through appropriate progressive loading through strength and conditioning principles.
Here are four examples (true patient cases) of how strength and conditioning can be implemented together into a physical therapy plan of care to achieve optimal results, including:
Grandfather with Back Pain: It can be heartbreaking to hear a grandfather can’t pick up his new grandson due to fear of back pain. In this case, we started with appropriate manual therapy to reduce pain. This was then followed with progressive hex bar deadlifts to build up low back strength. Initially, lifts were performed from an elevated surface but soon progressed to floor height. Within 6 weeks the patient was lifting 115 pounds via the hex bar deadlift.
Runner with EDS: Having EDS can impact joint stability, but it doesn’t mean you can’t strength train! This patient was convinced running was out of the picture due to numerous overuse injuries. However, appropriate strength training allowed for improved force absorption from her muscles and ligaments which ultimately allowed her to return to running pain-free. Some of the strength exercises utilized included barbell squats, dumbbell split squats, barbell hip thrusts, and single-leg deadlifts
Baseball Dad with Shoulder Pain: Not being able to play catch with your son can be a humbling experience. Rather than pursue exploratory surgery, the patient and I decided to progressively rehab his shoulder through strength and conditioning. We started with extensive rotator cuff strengthening using BFR and soon progressed to more dynamic strengthening utilizing plyometric principles. Ultimately the patient was able to return pain-free to throwing the baseball.
New Mother with Tendinopathy: Every time this new mother would squat down to pick up her daughter, she would have severe lateral ankle pain. She had attempted, without success, to resolve her peroneal tendinopathy with PRP, stretching, massage, acupuncture, and laser. Ultimately, we decided she needed to improve her tolerance to movement by implementing strength and conditioning. We started with foot and ankle strengthening via barbell calf raises and then progressed to functional movements including squats and lunges. By the time of discharge, the patient was able to complete all necessary movements without pain.
If you're recovering from an injury or surgery, let's set up a brief virtual consultation to discuss your recovery.