What is Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)?

Blood Flow Restriction Training is an exercise modality that physical therapists use to help restore muscle hypertrophy and strength by exercising under very low loads while occluding blood flow to a limb.

The outcomes yield similar results as high intensity resistance training that would normally take 8-12 weeks. However, you can achieve the same effect by exercising under relatively light loads (20-40% of 1RM) in as little as 2-4 weeks.

How does it work?

Limb-occlusion cuffs are placed around a person’s limb and are pumped to a recommended occlusion pressure that is personalized to the individual. They will exercise under this pressure to target specific muscle groups. The individual will feel muscle fatigue that is similar to working at high loads. By reducing venous return, the muscle groups are exercised under excessive fatigue, which stimulates faster muscle repair and regeneration.

BFR training is supported in research to promote increases in growth hormone, myostatin levels for protein synthesis, aerobic capacity, muscle activation potential, and reduce recovery time for muscle regeneration.

BFR training is recommended to take place 2-3x/week for 4 weeks to achieve optimized hypertrophic effect.

Who is it for?

  • Post-Operative: Patients with recent surgical procedures, and consequently experience weakness and muscle atrophy, will benefit from BFR training. The patient can exercise the muscles under low intensities, and still achieve a hypertrophic effect. To respect surgical sites and tissue healing times, BFR allows the patient to achieve strength gains with loads that are safe for the healing tissue. This includes but is not limited to: 
  • ACL repair 
  • Meniscus repair  
  • Shoulder glenoid labrum repair 
  • Rotator Cuff Repair 
  • Achilles Tendon Repair 
  • ORIF (at any body region) 
  • Late-Post-Operative (Residual Limb Atrophy): An individual with a history of surgery or injury that led to muscle weakness in their limb may achieve hypertrophic gains without heavy resistance training.  
  • Patients with Load Intolerance: An individual who is not able to train at heavy loads due to pain, weakness, or tissue damage will also benefit from BFR training. They can yield significant strength gains in 2-4 weeks in the impaired muscle region without excessive tissue stress. 

About Rise Physical Therapy

Hi, and welcome to Rise Physical Therapy.

Rise exists because we believe there is a demand for honest and ethical therapy that truly makes a difference in people's lives. After years of working in healthcare, we realized that the industry had lost it's focus on the patient. So we decided to start our own clinic and focus on providing our patients the very best in one-on-one physical therapy. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for swinging by the site, and we hope to see you soon.

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Most common questions about physical therapy

1. What is physical therapy (PT)? – Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, are experts in the musculoskeletal system, meaning we know your muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and how they operate as well as anyone. We play a critical role in the recovery and rehabilitation of the injured, hurting, or those suffering chronic conditions. Becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy (the only type of PTs we hire at Rise), requires over seven years of education.

2. Is PT covered by insurance? Almost all insurance plans give you an annual allowance of PT visits. For our current patients, that has typically meant a copay of around $15-$30/visit. Sometimes it’s lower, or even completely covered by insurance. Depending on your plan you might pay a bit more, such as when your plan has a higher deductible. If you are unsure, give us a call and our insurance experts can help you figure it out. You can reach us at (479) 595-8667.

3. Do you need a doctor’s referral for PT?No referral is needed – you can come straight in to see us without having to go to your doctor. Years ago a referral was required, but studies like this showed it was dramatically more effective and cheaper for patients to be sent to PTs first. The state of Arkansas has not required them for over 20 years (since 1997).

4. Does physical therapy work? – The only question that matters. Here’s what a recent large study found: “In the year following their initial complaint to primary providers, the sample of people in the study who went to physical therapy directly spent an average of $1,871, compared to $6,664 for those who were first sent for an MRI. The patients who received physical therapy first were less likely to receive surgery and injections, and they made fewer specialists and emergency department visits within a year of primary consultation.” [link] So not only does it work, it saves you money over the long run.

5. How much does PT cost? – We actually went ahead and ran the numbers on this one. If you include all of our past patients, the average payment after insurance was $19.25. So anywhere from $15 – $30 is a fairly accurate estimate of how much you’d be looking at paying per visit. That said, some patients actually get PT completely covered by insurance so you may end up paying $0.

6. What is the difference between a PT and a chiropractor? – There are quite a few, but the biggest difference is in the way the professions approach the practice of medicine. Physical therapists strictly use evidence-based (scientific) treatments that are focused on healing the patient permanently rather than temporarily dulling pain. At Rise, we are all about educating you on how to treat and address your issues on your own with stretches and exercises. On the other hand, Chiropractors tend to focus on pain relief techniques like spinal manipulation (adjustment) that are performed on an ongoing basis. It just comes down to what you desire in a treatment.

More questions? Read through the rest of our frequently asked questions here or give us a call at (479) 595-8667.