How Does Blood Flow Restriction Help Recovery | BFR Specialist


With the presence of blood flow restriction training in discussions surrounding intensity coaches and physiotherapists, people are beginning to seek out programs for the best training procedure which might help them reach new levels of athletic performance.


In arenas that were competitive; an athlete’s practice volume is often restricted by their capacity, not their desire to keep training. With elite athletes there are a handful of variables that influence recovery; sleep, nourishment, training volume, the modality of training, body work…etc.. Athletes are looking for everything they can to be able to recuperate faster so they can train harder. Blood flow restriction training is an alternative and should be included in the dialogue of methods which help you recover.


What is Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)?


In brief, it is when you use a tourniquet device to restrict blood flow to your extremities while exercising. Faster recovery, and amount of superior training, equals gains.


BFR and Recovery


First let us begin with the thought that BFR does not cause muscle damage. This is an extremely important aspect of BFR training. If we’re currently performing a modality to boost recovery, then we do not want to break down muscle fibers in the procedure.



Think of muscle recovery as an equation of protein balance. Net protein equilibrium muscle protein breakdown. We would like our web protein balance to be over 0 (in the favorable). A positive protein balance suggests we are building muscle, not breaking it down.


There are different markers used in study to quantify muscle breakdown such as CK degrees and myoglobin levels. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has also been measured in areas after BFR. The subject revealed no increase in DOMS after blood flow restriction. There seems to be no indirect or direct measures of muscular damage related to BFR when looking at the study. So we can conclude that using BFR will not increase muscle dysfunction following an athlete’s training session.


Process of Recovery with BFR


The very first thing we will look at is the greater release of growth hormone. Studies have shown there to be up to some 290% boost in growth hormone following BFR. Growth hormone is an integral component in collagen synthesis. Collagen synthesis enables the body to restore ligaments and tendons, which are reliant on hydration for strength and their structure.


Tendons, exactly like muscles, are subject to damage following training. When we’ve got higher tendon (collagen) breakdown when compared to tendon (hydration) synthesis we can ultimately wind up with bothersome limb injuries (tendonopathy, tendonitis, tendonosis). Various studies have shown there to be increased cross sectional area and tendon stiffness that was enhanced when comparing raised GH to a control group that was normal without GH.


What exactly does this mean to the athlete? The Growth hormone reaction with blood flow restriction training can lead to tendon strength and durability, thus allowing them to train longer without harm.


Growth hormone can also be correlated with greater healing in bone (thanks to the higher collagen synthesis). A frequent type of sport injury includes stress fractures. A stress fracture is when there’s more collagen breakdown when compared to collagen synthesis. BFR may play a role in helping to stop or limit stress fractures in athletes.


Next let us look at IGF-1. Insulin like growth factor -1 (IGF-1) is ultimately a protein that is connected to muscle growth. When we examine what is needed for muscle development, we could refer back to this equation cited before protein equilibrium muscle protein breakdown. If you have a favorable protein balance we could conclude that muscle development will be achieved by utilizing BFR therapy. More muscle being assembled compared to muscle being destroyed equals more muscle development. If we’re currently attaining a positive protein balance, we could conclude that our muscle fibers are recovering like they ought to be. When comparing to controls, when using BFR training various studies have shown there to be an increased number of IGF-1.


BFR Into Practice


The BFR would take place as the last thing you did before leaving the gym. You can do upper or lower body, however if your goal is strictly muscle recovery, I’d recommend doing the lower extremity. The lower extremity has muscle mass which will create a higher reaction. Since HGH and IGF-1 are carried throughout the blood flow, the result is systemic (whole body). You would be fine doing either the lower or upper extremities. BFR is safe to use on a daily basis, therefore its recommended to switc pper body on your primarily upper body dominant days and the lower body on primarily your lower body dominant days.




The exercise of choice for the lower extremity are some kind of deadlift or squat done at 20 to 30% of your 1RM. The exercise of choice for the upper body would be some kind of push up, row, or press. Once again you are currently aiming for 20-30 percent 1RM. You desire the exercises to be easy. It is not a wonderful notion when performing muscle ups or handstand pushups to perform BFR. That’s a recipe for failure.


The method would be to use 4 sets of 30/15/15/15 reps with a 30 second break between sets and a 2-second concentric and two- second eccentric contraction to get a metabolic reaction. The protocol would be complete in approximately 4-5 minutes.


The placement of the cuffs will be at the peak of your arm, the most proximal segment just before the shoulder, or the top of your leg, the most proximal segment below your hip. We want the limb occlusion pressure to be 80 percent for the lower extremities and 50% to the upper extremities. If you experience numbing and tingling sensations, you’ve constricted too much. It will be uncomfortable, and will be the greatest “pump” and “burn” you’ve ever encounter. There ought to be zero numbness or tingling when performing BFR.


The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900


By Dr. Alex Jimenez


Additional Topics: Sports Care


Athletes engage in a series of stretches and exercises on a daily basis in order to prevent damage or injury from their specific sports or physical activities as well as to promote and maintain strength, mobility and flexibility. However, when injuries or conditions occur as a result of an accident or due to repetitive degeneration, getting the proper care and treatment can change an athlete’s ability to return to play as soon as possible and restore their original health.

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The information herein on "How Does Blood Flow Restriction Help Recovery | BFR Specialist" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

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Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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