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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth McAneny

Blood Flow Restriction Training

Updated: 2 days ago

Suji machine for blood flow restriction training

What is blood flow restriction training? 

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a method that uses inflatable cuffs placed around the limbs. These cuffs are inflated to specific pressures to partially restrict arterial inflow and fully restrict venous outflow in working muscles during exercise. BFR is not a new concept as it was popularized by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in Japan in the 1980s. 

How does BFR work?

BFR aims to mimic the effects of high-intensity exercise by using a cuff to create a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment. This environment leads to various types of stress, including metabolic, mechanical, and neurological stress, which contribute to muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. Simply put, BFR allows you to create high-intensity work with low loads during exercise. 

Is BFR Safe?

physical therpist using the Suji armband in the Zion Physical Therapy training gym

Safety concerns surrounding BFR often focus on muscle damage, blood clotting, increased blood pressure, and pain. While these are valid concerns, research suggests that with proper precautions, BFR is generally safe, especially under the supervision of a physical therapist with training in BFR. Physical therapists are aware of contraindications for the use of BFR. Contraindications include history of clotting disorders, hypertension, DVT, or stroke. 

BFR Applications

BFR training has various applications, including:

  • Rehabilitation: BFR can be used in rehabilitation settings to prevent atrophy, mitigate pain, and promote muscle protein synthesis, especially when dynamic movement is limited. BFR is great after surgeries when loading or high weights are contraindicated. 

  • Early Loading: For sub-acute injuries or painful joints, BFR can be incorporated into aerobic exercises like walking or cycling to enhance recovery and prevent atrophy.

  • Strength and Hypertrophy: BFR can be combined with low-load resistance training to increase strength and hypertrophy, making it suitable for individuals who need to unload joints or have poor motor patterns.

  • Pain Management: BFR has shown promise in reducing pain, particularly for conditions like chronic pain and tendinopathy.

physical therpist using the Suji band in the Zion Physical Therapy training gym

BFR training offers a promising approach to achieving muscle hypertrophy, strength gains, and pain reduction. While it's essential to consider safety precautions and individual needs, BFR can be a valuable tool for rehabilitation, athletic performance, and overall fitness. If you're interested in exploring BFR during your rehabilitation journey, contact us to schedule an appointment at Zion PT. Our clinics are equipped with SUJI BFR units, one of the most advanced BFR systems on the market used for athletes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Learn more about SUJI here. All of the physical therapists at Zion PT are certified to administer BFR through SUJI’s certification program. 

Contact Zion Physical Therapy today for all of your physical therapy needs!

Phone: 212-353-8693 • Fax: 347-507-5510 • Office Email:

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