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Have you seen people in the gym, sure before COVID-19, wearing bands around their arms or legs while lifting weight? Let me tell you what they are trying to achieve. They are trying to achieve muscle fatigue as much they would usually do when they lift very heavy weights without the heavyweights. Yes, it is a way to cheat or protect your joints. Weight lifting takes a toll on your body and joints. However, this is not the way to go about Blood Flow Restriction training or training with the bands around your arms or legs. Those cuffs are usually very narrow and not ergonomically design to the contour of a limb. Also, the amount of pressure cannot be easily controlled. So I would like to start this blog by telling you of the possible damages or injuries you can cause to yourself if you do BFR in any other way than it is used in a Physical Therapy clinic such as BreakingThrough San Diego Physical Therapy: Possible damages/injuries:

  1. Nerve injury

  2. Skin injury

  3. Pain

  4. Chemical Burns

  5. Respiratory, cardiovascular, cerebral circulatory, and hematological effects caused by prolonged ischemia.

  6. Temperature changes

  7. Prolonged postoperative swelling of the affected area limb

  8. Arterial injury

Are you willing to risk these happening to you? Think of this. If you tie a thin, and symmetrical band around your asymmetrical limb tightly, and start contracting your muscles, what parameters are you following to stay safe? First of all, a thin band will place a great force over a small area. This is the formula for pressure; hence, when you start contracting the muscle, the force will increase but not the area. As a result, the pressure will increase. That alone can cause the damages depicted above. Now, the limbs are not symmetrical; hence, the pressure is not spread evenly with a symmetrical band. Therefore, the changes for breaking the skin increase. Now, how many times have you bruised without breaking skin? Bruising means you are breaking blood vessels and that is what can happen below the surface of the skin to all the other structures (nerves, arteries, veins, etc). How do you control or know if you are applying the right amount of pressure or doing the right amount of reps/set/exercises?  So, yes, it is of the utmost importance to use the right equipment, determine if you do not have conditions that may expose you to these injuries (not everyone should do BFR), know how to measure the changes in pressure, know how to monitor the physiological changes, and know when it is most appropriate to use the BFR. Here is what you can expect from using the BFR appropriately:

  1. Muscle hypertrophy (bigger muscles) which is directly related (backed by research) to muscle strength

  2. Lactate Production: needed for muscle hypertrophy

  3. Neuromuscular reactivation: lack of strength may be more than being weak. It may be a lack of muscle firing altogether. BFR activates it. 

  4. Growth Hormone. There are tons of articles and research of what this can do for you. We’ll touch on it on a later Blog

And the following:

  1. IGF-1 and Gene Expression

  2. Myostatin 

  3. Protein Synthesis

  4. Cell Swelling

Each of these can be explained further, and I will. However, be safe and come to us. We will show you how and provide you with the appropriate use of this technique. We do this so you can Feel Better, Live Better. Maximize Your life. - All of this information was obtained from Owens Recovery Science. I, Santiago Osorio, PT, am certified by them so I will only tell you what I obtain from them. I do not intend to take credit for collecting this information. 

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