Blood Flow Restriction Training for Physical Therapy

Blood Flow Restriction Training for Physical Therapy

Most anyone who’s ever played with, coached or cheered for a sports team knows the drill—sports injuries happen in the blink of an eye. A torn ACL, ripped rotator cuff, strained Achilles tendon and any number of other strains, sprains and breaks can keep you sidelined for weeks and months. So can recovering from many types of extremity surgery, no matter our age or mobility level. Now there’s a new option to help everyone recover faster.

Learn more about Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and how it’s safely helping patients of all ages, backgrounds and mobility levels.

What is BFR?

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a training strategy involving the use of an occlusion cuff that is placed around a limb during supervised exercise. This specialized tourniquet system is applied close to the center of your body and positioned for the targeted area to be trained. At Orthopedic Institute, our trainers use a “B-Strong” system of 6 difference cuff sizes.

Below is an example of a lower extremity cuff in action with a patient.

The cuff is inflated to a personalized/specific pressure to reduce blood flow to the exercising arm or leg. This creates a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment within the targeted muscle, allowing low-load exercise to effectively increase muscle strength and size.

Who could benefit from BFR?

  • Injured athletes returning to play after surgery or following treatment – including ACL reconstruction, Achilles tendon repairs, rotator cuff repairs, muscle strains and fractures.
  • Post-operative patients recovering from knee reconstruction, joint replacement surgery or severe breaks as the result of accidents or injuries.
  • Non-weight bearing (NWB) patients who need to minimize their loss of strength and muscle mass while waiting to return to normal activity.

Blood Flow Restriction is recognized as a safe and effective tool for rehabilitation by the American College of Sports Medicine. It should always be conducted with the supervision of a trained professional and is not a replacement for high-intensity resistance training for athletes, especially in the off season.

For more information, email Aaron Olson at or call OI Physical Therapy at 605-271-1354.