[RESEARCH] Safety of Blood Flow Restriction Therapy/Training | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

[RESEARCH] Safety of Blood Flow Restriction Therapy/Training

[RESEARCH] Safety of Blood Flow Restriction Training - themanualtherapist.com

Blood Flow Restriction Training Safety

Blood flow restriction training (BFRT) is defined as the partial restriction of arterial blood flow into the muscle while venous outflow is occluded during a bout of exercise.

BFRT is used for physical training and performance in healthy individuals, as well as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation in injured individuals.

Current understanding of the physiological mechanisms of BFRT and related performance includes:
  • Acute muscle cell swelling.
  • Increased fiber-type recruitment
  • Decreased myostatin.
  • Decreased atrogenes.
  • Satellite cell proliferation.

With the increasing use of BFRT in clinical populations, Minniti et al. (2020) systematically reviewed the research to assess the potential adverse events associated with BFRT when used clinically in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.

  • 19 studies with 322 pooled participants.
  • 9 studies reported no adverse events.
  • 3 reported rare adverse events, including an upper extremity deep vein thrombosis and rhabdomyolysis.
  • 3 case studies reported common adverse events, including acute muscle pain and acute muscle fatigue.

Individuals exposed to BFRT were not more likely to have an adverse event than individuals exposed to exercise alone.

Adverse Events Overall:
  • Overall (14 of 322).
  • Rare Overall (3 of 322).
  • Rare BFRT (3 of 168).
  • Rare Control Group (0 of 154)
  • Any adverse BFRT (10 of 168).
  • Any adverse control (4 of 154).

BFRT appears to be a safe intervention and even more so when used according to evidence-based guidelines and in patients with knee-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Further research is needed to make definitive conclusions about the absolute safety in all patient populations.

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Minniti et al. 2020. AmJ Sprt Med 2020;48(7):1773–1785 DOI: 10.1177/0363546519882652

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Dalton Urrutia, MSc PT

Dalton is a Physical Therapist from Oregon, currently living and running the performance physiotherapy clinic he founded in London for Grapplers and Strength & Conditioning athletes. Dalton runs the popular instagram account @physicaltherapyresearch, where he posts easy summaries of current and relevant research on health, fitness, and rehab topics. 
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