MLS Goal Keeper, Josh Saunders, shares why training with Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) got him back in the game after an injury
“My knee popped,” recalled Josh Saunders, then a Goal Keeper with US MLS team, Real Salt Lake. “When I came down, I knew the injury was bad, but I had no idea what was to come.” Saunders fears were confirmed - a torn left ACL, a bad, common football injury. However, Saunders' injury became more than the typical case - it became life threatening. Two weeks after surgery, Saunders not only contracted a serious bone infection, caused by the bacterium streptococcus, but also a candida fungus.
“It was no longer about my return to football,” Saunders said. “It was about surviving.”
Saunders went on to play multiple years with the New York City FC, and Orlando FC as a starting keeper, says he is lucky to be alive and to still have his leg.
Saunders credits his complete recovery to US Olympic Ski Team doctor and Sport Scientist, Dr. James Stray-Gundersen, and his cutting edge recovery, fitness, and strength protocols – The Anti Gravity Treadmill and Blood Flow Restriction Training or BFR.
Saunders came to meet Stray-Gundersen as many of the Real Salt Lake players made the trek up the mountain from Salt Lake to Park City to work with a rare medical doctor specializing in maximizing human performance. Saunders was looking for anything to get him back in the goal. He had lost significant weight, and more importantly, muscle mass.
Saunders met Dr. Stray-Gundersen who not only elevated Saunders' fitness, he built his strength back quickly with BFR protocols, very quickly.
"I had never heard of BFR Training before, but Stray-Gundersen showed me the incredible results he had achieved with his top Olympic skiers, and I was all for it."
"Dr. Stray-Gundersen applied 30 minutes of BFR sessions, five times per week and in a matter of a few sessions, I had significant increases in strength, and my quad size increased," said Saunders."I got that same fatigue feeling in my muscles, with no heavy weights. It was amazing."
"I heard about BFR at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual meeting. At first very skeptical of BFR, I quickly saw a multitude of positive adaptations in the already very fit Olympians I was training, so I sought to build a BFR tool that all populations could use at home in B Strong BFR Training Systems."
Already well trained, highly fit elite athletes were getting leaner, faster, stronger, lifting less weights in training, and doing less and shorter intervals, and were achieving better results than with traditional training.
"In all my 30 years of experience and training at the top level of sport, I had never seen such results, but knew I needed to develop a safer and more effective, more versatile, less bulky, BFR product so I enlisted Stanford Engineer, Sean Whalen and we developed B Strong BFR," explained Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD, Sports Scientist, Olympic Physician and Exercise Physiologist.
With his depth of expertise in medicine, intricate physiology, cardiopulmonary physiology, and cardiovascular physiology, Stray-Gundersen identified mechanisms to make BFR safe and effective, and easy to use, for all populations to reap the benefits of exercise.
Saunders went on to have neck surgery and went from daily B Strong Training for strength and power, to daily rehab and again came back from injury stronger than ever." Saunders is not the only footballer to benefit from Stray-Gundersen's knowledge. MLS Defender, Kuami Watson-Siriboe, another ACL tear victim, started the same BFR program under Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD.
The effects were shockingly immediate.
“I quickly recovered doing specific BFR protocols with the Doc," says Watson-Siriboe.“
The key to proper B Strong BFR is achieving the ‘fatigue’ in the muscle so that the physiologic cascade to produce Growth Hormone, occurs. Simply put, you cannot get beneficial results, if you do not use proper protocols, equipment, and safety checks required with blood flow restriction training and we have made it safe and effective with our B Strong BFR tool. As always, the athlete safety and recovery is our first concern," said Dr. Stray-Gundersen.
Saunders said, “I couldn’t believe the results at first, but I had faith in Dr. Stray-Gundersen, and I just wanted to get back on track as fast as his skiers did. I am now, stronger, faster and quicker, than I was before my injury."
Josh Saunders was named NYFC Player of the Month in 2015 only a year after his career threatening injury.
WHY B STRONG BFR TRAINING WORKS
The benefits of proper B STRONG training cannot be over emphasized.
B STRONG BFR training is an exercise technique that safely manipulates the body's circulatory system, and when combined with exercise, produces rapid gains in strength and fitness using light loads in a very short period of time. Its use triggers a natural hormonal response in the body generating Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which has been noted to produce an anti-aging effect, and contribute to the building of stronger bones, increase lean muscle mass, and reduce body fat. The efficiency of BFR Training creates a paradigm shift in fitness! Now, weight training with half the weights in half the time can illicit remarkable whole body results.
HOW B STRONG BFR TRAINING WORKS
What you commonly hear referred to as “No Pain/No Gain” refers to the traditional weight training model — ultimately tearing muscle to build new muscle and increase strength.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN
For an individual to achieve muscle fatigue from a traditional training session, he/she would have to lift heavy weights or push oneself for a long period of time to illicit the growth hormonal response needed to make strength gains or overall improvement.
When following B STRONG banded protocols, lifting lighter weights ‘tricks’ the muscle to fatigue, the athlete (young or old/fit or unfit) gets the desired physiologic response quickly without having to break down and tear muscle, inducing Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to all tissues and working muscles of the body. This strong yet non-damaging muscle fatigue triggers a natural, robust, hormonal cascade which in turn produces hypertrophy and strength gains on par with traditional weightlifting. The hormones circulating in the blood stream benefit all areas of the body that were working not only the banded limbs, which we refer to as the "systemic effect."
B STRONG BFR Training is not limited to weight-bearing exercises. B STRONG BFR bands can be used in any* training or fitness protocol including walking, running, cycling, swimming sport-specific skills/drills training and most fitness classes where heavy weights are not involved.
“I am now, stronger, faster and quicker, than I was before my injury.”
>> JOSH SAUNDERS MLS GOAL KEEPER
BENEFITS OF BFR TRAINING
The benefits of BFR training lead to better health and wellness for the entire population – young and old alike. It can be done anywhere, anytime, regardless of your starting fitness level and remarkable improvement is possible.
B STRONG Training Systems is the safest BFR technology on the market. B STRONG bands are designed for safety. Their patented air-baffle inflating design ensures the bands cannot occlude blood flow. Without this unique design/safety feature, restricting blood flow can be an extremely dangerous. The B Strong Training System is the only BFR tool designed by an Olympic physician and MD with expertise in the cardiovascular and circulatory systems, and decades of experience in athlete and overall human performance. The B Strong Training System was designed to be safe for everyone from age 8 to 103 and all fitness levels to improve overall health and performance.
Gain all the benefits of traditional training without incurring the damage. Get stronger, leaner, improve performance, recover faster. The B STRONG Training System uses a safe, natural and physiological manipulation of your body’s circulatory system to produce quick and significant gains in strength and fitness! In other words, your brain is tricked into thinking you are working hard, lifting extremely heavy weights in response to the restricted blood flow to the banded muscle. Your brain turns on a cascade hormonal response to support the “overworked” muscle initiating muscle hypertrophy (growth) without ever actually overworking the muscle. And the benefits are systemic – not just the banded muscle is impacted, with B Strong Training the entire body and all working muscles benefit. You gain all the benefits, leaner stronger muscle growth without ever actually tearing or over straining the working muscle. The benefits are immediate and measurable, in half the time of traditional workouts.
After years of studying BFR devices in use in throughout Asia in the 1990’s, Dr. Stray-Gundersen defined the mechanism and physiological response that elicits the immediate benefits of BFR training, and developed and patented the B STRONG Training System to simplify BFR Training for all. The initial devices used in Asia cost thousands of dollars, were cumbersome and were not safe to use without trained supervision.The devices did not allow for unimpeded activity, as you were tethered to a pressure device. Recently, the availability of BFR tourniquets, elastic wraps and cuffs common in the bodybuilding world and available inexpensively online, are extremely dangerous and can cause permanent damage to muscle and tendons (and much worse) and should not be used. The B Strong Training System was specifically designed to bring an affordable, safe and easy to use BFR device to market for all to use for measurable improvements to overall health and fitness levels.
WHO & HOW TO USE BFR SAFELY
BFR Training is an exercise methodology used by people in all stages of life. Our technology utilizes natural physiological pathways to safely induce the body’s nervous, circulatory, and hormonal systems to produce a large anabolic effect leading to incredible gains in strength in a short period of time. Whether you are a professional athlete looking to gain an edge in performance or a senior looking to feel youthful and gain mobility again, everyone can benefit from BFR Training.
NUMBER OF BANDS
There are many questions about using two or four B Strong Bands at the same time. Dr. Stray-Gundersen explains using both arm bands and leg bands separately and together is doable due to the unique design of the B Strong BFR System, which comes with an APP that explains different recommended pressures when using two or four B Strong Bands.
SAFE FOR CHILDREN
B STRONG Training Systems™ represents a paradigm shift in Strength Training for youth to build muscle strength, avoid injury and sustain mobility, while protecting joints and long-term sports participation. Stronger young athletes will be better prepared to learn complex movements, master sport tactics, and sustain the demands of training and competition whilst simultaneously reducing their risk of injury due to improved muscle support, body control and/or technique. It has long been a concern of parents and sporting oversight that youth training in sport went too far.
BFR TRAINING IS BACKED BY SCIENCE
Science is showing on a daily basis that BFRT improves strength and fitness and causes less muscle damage leading to shorter recovery times.
We do not recommend a pregnant woman start B STRONG TrainingTM sessions during her pregnancy. Seek the advice of your doctor if you have other concerns about B STRONG Training SystemsTM during or after pregnancy.
Individuals diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, should not use B STRONG Training™ In this situation red blood cells are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.
* If you are at risk for any complications or have any questions about whether BFR training is safe for you, seek the advice of a medical professional.
THE DOCTOR SAYS:
"I have had a career-long focus on legally Maximizing Human Performance at the highest level of sport for over 30 years. In this capacity working with Olympians, World Champions, Professional and Amateur teams, I have come across many potentially performance enhancing modalities — I have never experienced such a game-changing catalyst for maximizing athletic performance and overall fitness as Blood Flow Restrictive (BFR) Training. As a sports scientist and sports medicine physician, my partner Sean Whalen and I developed the B STRONG BFR Training System for all ages and disciplines to benefit safely from Blood Flow Restrictive Training, with an eye to an affordable, comfortable, safe and effective, new training modality."
>>DR. JIM STRAY-GUNDERSEN
Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD has helped pioneer the use of blood flow restriction training in North America and Europe and with his partner created B Strong BFR Training System. Stray-Gundersen lectures and certifies professionals and consumers in BFR training. Board Certified in General Surgery, Jim’s background is both academic and athletic. His “day job” has been as research faculty in Cardiology and Orthopedics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas and he has worked for 35+ years in Olympic and Professional Sports.