Is Blood Flow Restriction Therapy Right for You?


Athletic injuries are difficult to recover from, both physically and psychologically. You want to heal as quickly as possible to get back in the game, but returning too quickly to sport can lead to more injuries that can terminate your athletic career.

Blood flow restriction training (BRFT) speeds recovery and increases strength in injured athletes and other patients recovering from injury or surgery. BRFT helps to restore muscle function and joint range of motion during the rehabilitation process, without harming injured structures.

BRFT has also proven effective for increasing lean muscle mass, building strength and increasing bone mineral density in older adults suffering from sarcopenia (muscle loss). Read more here…

BFRT Basics

In the past we believed that resistance training would only stimulate muscle growth when the resistance load was 65-70% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) or greater. However, it was recently discovered that low-intensity resistance exercise combined with blood-flow restriction (BFR) can cause adaptations in muscle size and strength with loads of 50% 1RM or lower. Training with lower weight loads means that exercises can be performed in the rehab setting without placing excessive stress on injured structures.

Because the mechanisms of BFRT appear to differ from those of high intensity resistance training, BFRT may also be beneficial for building and maintaining lean muscle in patients suffering from a variety of conditions that cause muscle wasting, including thyroid disease, kidney disease and cancer. Read more here…

Benefits of BFRT

An expanding body of research reveals that BFRT has multiple health benefits beyond increasing muscle size and strength. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Reduced muscle atrophy and strength loss after injury or surgery
  • Improved muscle fiber activation
  • Strength increases with loads as low as 30% 1RM
  • Accelerated healing of fractured bones
  • Increased muscle size with loads as low as 30% 1RM
  • Increased bone mineral density
  • Increased muscle endurance over a shorter training period (2-3 weeks)
  • Increased VO2 max (total volume of oxygen used by muscles)
  • Improved muscle protein synthesis in older adults
  • Increased growth hormone responses
  • Increased muscle strength and size after surgery

How BFRT is Done

BFRT is a safe way to increase muscle strength and size using much lighter weight loads than traditional resistance training. During a BFRT session, a cuff or band is applied to the thigh or upper arm, depending on which muscles are being targeted. The cuff works like a tourniquet, applying pressure to restrict oxygen flow to the working muscles.

The effect of BFRT is similar to that of a high intensity workout, where lactic acid is produced in the muscle cells as a metabolic byproduct. At the same time, the muscle cells swell, stimulating muscle growth. The end results are similar to those of high intensity weight training, but achieved in less time, at lower training volumes, and with less tissue damage.

During recovery from injury or surgery, muscle tissue quickly begins to shrink, or atrophy, with patients losing up to 30% of lean mass in as little as two weeks. BRFT helps prevent muscle shrinkage and speeds recovery by activating muscles to promote healing. BFRT is especially beneficial for common sports injuries like ACL ruptures. Read more here…

Who Can Benefit from BFRT?

Anyone can realize results from BFRT, but not everyone needs it. Healthy younger people who are physically active but do not want to gain more lean mass or strength may have no reason to use BFRT.

Populations who benefit the most from BFRT include:

  • Individuals who want to speed recovery from injury or surgery
  • Elderly adults who want to increase motor function and improve quality of life
  • Endurance athletes who want to speed recovery between training sessions
  • People suffering from muscle-wasting conditions or disorder
  • Athletes who want to gain a competitive edge
  • Bodybuilders and power athletes who want to maximize muscle size and strength

Certain people should steer clear of BFRT, including those with cardiac disease or high blood pressure, people with varicose veins or deep-vein thrombosis, pregnant women and those whose health care providers advise against it

Blood Flow Restriction Therapy in NYC

BFRT offers a safe and effective solution for accelerating healing from injury or surgery. It is effective for building muscle strength and size for functional and athletic performance, for diverse populations. The experienced sports medicine therapists at NYDNRehab can help you achieve the best results from BFRT with a customized training program designed to meet your specific needs.

At NYDNRehab, we combine the latest therapies and treatments with advanced technology to give you the very best rehabilitation experience. Our experienced staff of sports medicine professionals treats every patient as a unique individual. We listen to your concerns and invite your feedback throughout the diagnostic and rehabilitation process.

Whether you are an elite athlete, a post-surgery patient or just someone who wants to move better, our goal is to help you achieve maximal function and peak performance while reducing your risk of injury. Contact NYDNRehab today, and let us help you move better so you can enjoy the very best quality of life.


Conceição, Miguel S., and Carlos Ugrinowitsch. “Exercise with blood flow restriction: an effective alternative for the non‐pharmaceutical treatment for muscle wasting.” Journal of cachexia, sarcopenia and muscle 10.2 (2019): 257-262.

Kim, SoJung, et al. “Effects of short term low intensity resistance training with blood flow restriction on bone markers and muscle cross-sectional area in young men.” International Journal of Exercise Science 5.2 (2012): 6.

Manini, Todd M., and Brian C. Clark. “Blood flow restricted exercise and skeletal muscle health.” Exercise and sport sciences reviews 37.2 (2009): 78-85.

Ohta, Haruyasu, et al. “Low-load resistance muscular training with moderate restriction of blood flow after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.” Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica 74.1 (2003): 62-68.

Pearson, Stephen John, and Syed Robiul Hussain. “A review on the mechanisms of blood-flow restriction resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy.” Sports medicine 45.2 (2015): 187-200.

Vechin, Felipe C., et al. “Comparisons between low-intensity resistance training with blood flow restriction and high-intensity resistance training on quadriceps muscle mass and strength in elderly.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 29.4 (2015): 1071-1076.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

Buy now 3D Gait
Payment Success
Request Telehealth Request Telehealth Request in office visit Book now