Are you looking to build more muscle as you train for an athletic event? Perhaps you need to increase your muscle mass as part of your recovery after a major operation or illness. No matter why you’re considering blood flow restriction therapy (BFR) to support your muscle growth, the treatment can enhance your recovery, rehabilitation, or performance.
Expert physical therapists at Elation Physical Therapy in Houston and Pearland, Texas, routinely use innovative BFR therapy in tandem with muscle-building exercises. It involves using tourniquet-like bands to restrict blood flow in your arms and legs by inflating and deflating as you complete such exercises.
You might wonder if BFR is right for you or if you can achieve your functional goals without it. The answer is complex and depends on your goals, expectations, and overall health.
Getting results from BFR
Understanding how BFR works to increase your muscle mass may help you decide if it’s worth pursuing. While research continues on why BFR is so effective for increasing muscle mass, experts have a few strong theories.
When you reduce the amount of blood that flows into your muscles during exercise, your anaerobic metabolism increases. This means that your muscles are producing energy without oxygen. In response to the lack of oxygen, your muscles release lactic acid, which helps them grow more rapidly.
Additionally, BFR therapy causes increased cellular swelling, a critical part of the muscle growth.
BFR allows you to exercise at a lower intensity and with lighter weights while still building the amount of muscle you would at a higher intensity minus the blood flow restriction. Lower-intensity exercises make rehabilitation easier if you’re trying to build back muscle after a major illness or a lengthy recovery from surgery.
Where BFR fits best
Elation Physical Therapy offers BFR therapy for two main groups of people. Athletes have long used BFR for strength training, but it continues to grow in popularity as a clinical treatment for recovery.
Many athletes rely on BFR as part of their training regimen. If you’re struggling to reach your competitive goals or improve your overall performance, BFR therapy can give you an extra push.
When you’re bedridden for a period of time as you recover from surgery or a major illness, your muscles start to atrophy or shrink. You might not retain the level of function you had before the illness or surgery. As part of your rehabilitation program, BFR therapy helps you recover much of your previous muscle mass and function.
Confirmation with an individualized consultation
Of course, every person’s case is unique to the individual, and BFR therapy isn’t always a beneficial or appropriate addition to a curated rehabilitation program. Our team performs comprehensive initial assessments to understand your functional needs and goals.
Most people with the right goals are candidates for BFR. You can safely use it if you:
- Aren’t currently pregnant
- Don’t experience blood clotting issues
- Have no current infections
- Aren’t recovering from a bone fracture
The team develops an individualized program that may include other therapies with BFR to improve your strength, performance, or recovery.
Call either of our Houston-area offices or schedule a consultation online to see if blood flow restriction aligns with your goals today.