Blood flow restricted (BFR) rehabilitation is the brief and intermittent occlusion of the blood flow in veins using a tourniquet while exercising. Using this technique you can exercise with significantly lighter weight while still creating a hypertrophy (growth) and strong response. Traditionally to get hypertrophy and a strong response in your muscles you would need to lift a heavy load.
The goal is to reduce just enough blood flow to create positive changes. However, the amount of pressure used varies between individuals. The size of your limb, the density of the soft tissue in your limb, blood pressure, placement of the tourniquet, and width of the tourniquet, all must be taken into account when determining your personalized pressure. Your healthcare provider will utilize a specialized tourniquet system built with a monitor to account for these variables. Additionally, your healthcare provider will discuss potential contraindications to this treatment with you to determine if you are a candidate.
Once your personalized pressure is determined you will begin specific exercises based on your rehabilitation plan. Even though you are lifting a lightweight your muscles will begin to feel like it is working very hard. This feeling In your muscle is the buildup of lactate and is the desired response to this training. It is important that you complete the total number of sets and repetitions prescribed by your healthcare provider in order to maximize this response. You may also begin to sweat and feel your heart rate rise similar to what you experience during a heavy workout. This is common and expected.