Blood Flow Restriction (BFR): How does it work?

bfr bfr acl Jul 27, 2022

History of BFR

Initially popularized by Johnny Owens, M.P.T., BFR was initially implemented in his clinic for building muscle strength and hypertrophy, initially within a the population of military limb salvage patients.

Within just a few years, the potential for BFR has become more recognized and an evolution from trauma patients to the sports medicine population occurred.

Decades after the first publication, clinical evidence is building and the utility of BFR continues to be better understood.

How does BFR work?

BFR occludes venous outflow while maintaining arterial inflow by the application of a tourniquet to the affected limb. This ultimately reduces oxygen delivery to muscle cells during low-resistance exercises. Consequently, the induced anaerobic environment has been reported to promote muscle hypertrophy.

Who can benefit from BFR?

While many populations can benefit from BFR, if you are reading this blog, you are most likely interested in the application of BFR in sports medicine patients. When using BFR as an adjunct to postoperative rehabilitation. It has been postulated that exercises conducted at lower loads (20%-50% of 1-repetition maximum) can promote muscle hypertrophy similar to traditional strengthening protocols while reducing pain and impact/joint loading. This benefit is extremely compelling in working with those patients recovering from a surgery which necessitates non or partial- weight bearing post-operatively.

Next time... learn more about how to apply BFR in the sports medicine setting.