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What is Blood Flow Restriction Training For?

Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFRT)

What is BFRT?

BFRT is a type of resistance training that involves reducing blood flow into a limb and restricting venous blood flow (blood returning to the heart) out of the limb with a pressure cuff while doing low load resistance training. As a result, BFRT allows an individual to resistance train at a low load, but accomplish similar strength gains to a heavy resistance program, which in a rehabilitation setting is important since most patients are unable to lift the necessary weight to make strength gains while injured.

How does BFRT work?

By reducing venous flow out of the limb, BFRT helps to hold in metabolites like lactic acid, forcing the muscle to use its fast twitch fibers, thus stimulating increases in strength. This same mechanism is used while performing high load/low rep strength exercises. BFRT also stimulates the production of growth hormone and insulin growth factor, which help stimulate muscle growth as well.

What Injuries is BFRT used to treat?

A wide variety of injuries can be treated with BFRT such as tendinosis, muscle strains/tears, post-fracture, post-surgery, and anything in between. BFRT is a great method to build strength while injured tissues heal. There is also some early evidence to suggest that BFRT can be helpful when recovering from Long COVID symptoms. After a COVID infection, some individuals develop significant weakness in their extremities and are unable to return to a normal activity routine but because BFRT can be used with very low loads of strength or aerobic exercise, it is an appropriate way to help gain back necessary muscle strength and endurance to return to regular activity.

How do I know if I should try BFRT?

A trained physiotherapist can help determine if this treatment is appropriate for you by assessing your injury and taking a detailed history.

Where can I get BFRT?

At the time of writing (April 2021), this service is available at Creekside and West Springs. There is no additional cost to add this tool to your rehabilitation plan, provided it is appropriate for your situation.

Kaylie Wilson, PT, Physical Therapist

Kaylie Wilson is a physiotherapist at our West Springs and Evidence North locations. Kaylie graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2011 and her Master’s in Physical Therapy in 2013 from the University of Saskatchewan. Since graduating, Kaylie has gone on to pursue many post-graduate courses including her Level I and II dry needling from Kineticore, Levels I – V certifications from the CPA Diploma of Advanced Orthopaedic Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy courses, Mastering the Shoulder Levels I and II, and has become a Level 2 provider for concussion management through Shift Concussions. Kaylie is also currently working towards becoming a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy. 

Kaylie is passionate about strength training and feels it is an important part of the rehabilitation process.  She will customize programs to meet the needs of her patients so they become independent in managing their injuries. Though Kaylie enjoys rehabilitating all types of injuries, she has taken a special interest in concussion management, spinal injuries, and cervicogenic headache.

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