Is Blood Flow Restriction Training Safe? What are the risks? What should I know to be safe? Can anyone do this?
The B Strong Training System was created with safety and efficacy in mind by Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, Sports Doctor, Exercise Physiology and Trainer for Sport Performance. B Strong is specifically designed NOT TO OCCLUDE (stop) blood flow to the limb, making it the safest BFR system of its kind and can be used anytime, anywhere by anyone to optimize overall fitness.
As this doppler ultra sound video shows, the B Strong Training System uses uniquely designed bands that maintain arterial inflow when safety rules, cautions, and app guidelines are followed. On the other hand, blood pressure cuffs and surgical tourniquets, which have sometimes been used for BFR training, occlude blood flow to the limbs. Avoiding occlusion of arterial inflow to a limb mitigates against the root cause of serious complications.
What are the risks of BFR?
Most commonly, no side effects are experienced with BFR training differently than traditional exercise. Generally, if it's safe to exercise, it's safe for BFR.
What are the contraindications of BFR?
- Atrial Fibrillations
- Sickle cell anemia
- Untreated hypertension
- Active cancer, on cancer meds
- Existing untreated deep venous thrombosis (DVT)
- Indwelling catheter/vascular access port
- Recent skin or vascular grafts
- Active Lymphedema in limb
What are the precautions of BFR?
- Cardiac disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Varicose veins
- <2 weeks post-operative
- Limited exercise experience
- Reports of pain
- Multiple comorbidities (Diabetes, HTN, Obese, Vascular Issues, etc.)
Ultimately, we want to set up a mismatch between enough blood getting to the muscles so they can meet the needs to sustaining work, but limit the blood flow to the muscles in order to create a disturbance.
Elements that Make BFR safe:
- Never fully stopping the flow of blood
- Allowing movement of the working limb through its available ranges
- Monitoring perceptions of pain & effort
This is NOT meant to be an all-inclusive list that could possibly encompass all the nuances and considerations for BFR. It is meant to guide and enhance understanding of situations to be mindful of and utilize accordingly.
As more research and information continues to come out on BFR, changes need to develop as well. For now, BFR continues to be utilized in numerous populations safely and effectively.
As always, consult medical professionals with each individual's circumstances.
Credit: Joel Novak at My Performance Rehab