Let’s get into some specifics – how exactly do you do this?
First things first – the equipment. Firstly, you’ll need a medically approved BFR cuff, preferably tapered for a better width and wide. Avoid using elastic cuffs and theraband as the elasticity of the material increases the pressure and is difficult to accurately determine. Secondly for best practice a doppler should be used to measure occlusion pressure accurately for individualised treatment.
There are a number of methods that can be used to determine the amount of pressure to use in the cuff.
- Some people use a standardized pressure, regardless of the individual. This does not allow for differences in people’s build, or importantly their blood pressure. As such, this is not recommended.
- Another method measures the person’s systolic blood pressure and then the cuff pressure is chosen based on a percentage of this pressure.
The best method of application is individualised assessment of the person on each application using a Doppler Arterial Ultrasound to measure the amount of pressure required to completely occlude the arterial blood flow. This determines the “limb occlusion pressure” (LOC). The cuff pressure is then set at 40 to 80 % of the LOC (depending on upper limb or lower limb and the individual person’s reaction).
The standard protocol is 30 repetitions followed by a 30sec rest, then 15 reps, 30 sec rest, 15 reps, 30 sec rest and 15 reps (aiming for a total of 75 reps at 15-30% 1RM. Often the patient manages the first round well, but notices the subsequent rounds are more difficult with the limb feeling heavy and fatigued. The patient might also notice an increased heart rate. Any feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness, training should cease. Although BFR can be used in conjunction with other training programs, it is important NOT to train other high intensity exercises straight after BFR training as force production is limited after BFR.
The cuff remains in place during the rest periods. This protocol has shown the most significant effect.
The progression of the exercise and program is individualised for each person with the aim being to achieve enough strength to progress into traditional strength training and return to normal sporting or lifestyle function. If you would like to give BFR a go, book an assessment with one of our super star physiotherapists.
Miami Physio : 9534 4111
Lakelands Physio: 9542 9999