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Personal Blood Flow Restriction

Personal Blood Flow Restriction Training

Personal Blood Flow Restriction Training (PBFR) is a leading-edge therapeutic approach in which sports therapists utilize a tourniquet cuff to greatly reduce the blood flow to a muscle and occlude blood flowing away from that same muscle.

During PBFR sessions, athletes wear the tourniquet cuff and perform low-load exercises, like walking or lifting an arm. The blood flow restriction prompts the athlete's body respond as it would to High Intensity Training (HIIT), by increasing heart rate.

PBFR prompts cellular-level activity as well. Studies show that exercise during PBFR causes muscular lactate to rise, which in turn releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin Growth Factor 1. This is known as a hormonal cascade and it is partially responsible for increasing the muscle’s strength and volume.

At St. Charles Sports Medicine, PBFR is delivered by sports physical therapists certified in PBFR by Owens Recovery Science. The therapists utilize the only FDA-listed Class 1 device, a tourniquet cuff.

There is a screening process to be eligible Personal Blood Flow Restriction Training. The amount of blood flow restriction needed for each patient varies based on the patient’s blood pressure, limb circumference, limb density, cuff width and cuff location.

Applications for Personal Blood Flow Restriction Training


St. Charles Sports Therapists employ PBFR on athletes recovering from muscle injury or surgery. The technique is believed to shorten recovery time. Because PBFR may also reduce the impact of the body’s natural scarring mechanism and decrease muscle atrophy, it has the potential to benefit athletes who fail to use a muscle, or use a muscle significantly less, following injury or surgery.

Recovery and Muscle Restoration

Even athletes who are fit and injury-free sustain some level of muscular microtrauma when training, specifically, microscopic tears to the muscle. Although they are not injured, they may be sore as a result. However, the same muscle protein synthesis spike which fights cellular-level scarring in rehabilitating athletes undergoing PBFR also has the potential to heal these microscopic muscular tears in non-injured athletes.

Train Longer and Harder

Because PBFR increases muscle volume, the resulting rise in mitochondria density can improve an athlete’s endurance, allowing them to train longer with less fatigue. This can help them train with more intensity and therefore improve their VO2 Max, which is the body’s ability to efficiently consume and use oxygen.

Maintenance Of Off-Season Gains

In-season athletes can use BFR after strenuous games or practices, supplementing a standard workout (almost like a meal replacement). Preservation of strength gained during the off season is attainable without placing anymore demands through the joints, such as running and throwing. Example, after a pitchers start or bullpen session, BFR can be used to preserve the strength and endurance of the rotator cuff and surrounding scapular musculature. Allowing the athlete to maintain a healthy shoulder throughout the season

Personal Blood Flow Restriction is offered at these St. Charles Rehabilitation Outpatient Locations

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