Changing the Playing Field
Mark Dominick, MS, LAT, ATC
What is B Strong BFR Training?
B Strong is a specialized device for doing Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training safely, simply and effectively. BFR training is a training strategy that produces equivalent gains in strength and muscle size as maximum resistance training, but only uses light resistance, thereby saving wear and tear and reducing recovery times. B Strong’s proprietary design mitigates full arterial occlusion, making it the safest BFR product available.
Mark is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, assistant athletic trainer at UNCW in charge of baseball, and one of our first customers in high level athletics. We reached out to Mark to see how it’s been going and wanted to share some words of wisdom on what he has learned after several years of successful B Strong BFR under his belt.
How did you get interested in Blood Flow Restriction training?
My first exposure to Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR), sometimes referred to as “occlusion training” was while in graduate school. The athletic department I worked in had acquired a single BFR device and we began implementing it into our post-op ACLR patients. Through a couple unofficial case studies, we saw significant differences between the patients using BFR and the patients not using BFR. Especially early on in the rehabilitation process when returning to activities of daily living (ADLs). The obvious difference in strength and quadriceps definition peaked my curiosity for using BFR in a broader scope beyond just post-op ACLR.
Why did you choose B Strong?
After starting a new job, I looked into the prospect of purchasing BFR bands or BFR cuffs for our facility. Our budget was limited and the easiest way to offer Blood Flow Restriction training was to apply for an educational grant. Based on what I knew of Blood Flow Restriction training from grad school, I expected to only be able to purchase a single BFR cuff even with the grant. But after researching the market I came across the B Strong BFR BandsTM. The affordability and versatility of the product was what first drew me in. I was able to purchase a few “trainer packages” in addition to organizing an in-service educational experience for our undergraduate athletic training program and staff with the grant that was awarded.
How has the staff reacted to the BFR bands?
Initially, I don’t think many of our staff had much experience using BFR bands for Blood Flow Restriction training and some were hesitant because of this. Since that initial time, the majority of our staff uses Blood Flow Restriction in their rehabilitation protocols especially the post-operative ones!
How have the athletes responded to the BFR bands?
I work with baseball, a sport notorious for superstitions meaning it can be difficult to introduce changes to routines. I implemented the B Strong BFR BandsTM into part of our pitchers’ routine and they immediately embraced the Blood Flow Restriction training workouts. Many guys were asking for additional workouts using the BFR cuffs because they like the challenge of a Blood Flow Restriction training workout but don’t often experience soreness with it. I also use the B Strong BFR Bands in a majority of my rehabilitation protocols. Often times the athletes aren’t too excited for the bands in rehabilitation because they know it will be a tough workout. At the same time, the injured and physically limited athletes also look forward to an opportunity to sweat again with a difficult workout (with low load) using Blood Flow Restriction training.
What kind of results have you seen with the B Strong BFR Bands?
From the sports medicine perspective, I see Blood Flow Restriction physical therapy having the highest potential when working with an injured athlete who can’t complete a normal workout due to his/her injury. I can use Blood Flow Restriction training as a means of decreasing the physical load on an athlete’s tissues while still providing a metabolic stress which will then trigger a hormonal response that can benefit the healing necessary for the athlete. Not only is it helpful to decrease the load on an injured tissue, but I can also use the global hormonal effect of Blood Flow Restriction to train a non-involved area of the athlete’s body to then benefit the involved tissues without the need to completely avoid training for an injured athlete. The versatility of Blood Flow Restriction training in this sense is what allows me to be creative as a clinician and include Blood Flow Restriction into so many rehabilitation protocols. B Strong’s BFR bands offer me a distinct advantage in this sense that their design and safety allows use on all four extremities whereas most other systems only can be used on one, or at most two limbs at a time. This cuts my time in half and allows me to get a bigger global stimulus to help the whole body repair and get stronger. I have had great results incorporating Blood Flow Restriction training to the protocols for muscle strains, tendinopathies, post-surgical cases, neurological pathologies, and even daily maintenance exercises for throwers’ shoulders.
How do you guys use the B Strong BFR Bands?
I use the BFR cuffs in most of my rehabilitation protocols at one point or another. Sometimes I will use the BFR bands to target the injured tissue, but I have found the most effective and lowest risk for using Blood Flow Restriction training is when I put the bands on the non-involved limb. I have used Blood Flow Restriction physical therapy in rehabilitation for a hamstring strain by placing the B Strong BFR Bands on the leg with the injury. However, I also find it highly effective in a situation like biceps tendonitis, where I might put the B Strong BFR Bands on the patient’s legs for a whole body rehabilitation session. Blood Flow Restriction training physical therapy creates a hormonal response which can be received globally throughout the body. This property of Blood Flow Restriction allows the chance to unload an injured tissue during rehabilitation and still provide healing and strengthening benefits to that tissue. Again, B Strong is the only system out there that advocates for full body blood flow restriction training which is absolutely key for busy coaches and clinicians.
What are the nicest features of the B Strong BFR bands and in your mind what makes them stand out from other options on the market?
The portability and ease of use of the B Strong BFR Bands is the most beneficial feature for me. I am able to educate my patients on how exactly to set up the bands and they can easily do it themselves from there on out. The full body capability also lets me cut the training time in half. Ease of use and quick setup frees my time up to work with more patients in less time. I bring the bands with me in the hard case on the road when traveling with the team and they have survived extensive use and endless bus trips.
How have we as a company been to deal with?
B Strong has been excellent to work with! I was awarded a grant to purchase the units and part of the requirements for the grant included an educational aspect paired up with an undergraduate class. I contacted B Strong to inquire about what opportunities would be available and we were able to work out an in-service training for the entire undergraduate athletic training program. They came out to our campus and spoke with the program directly and followed up with a hands-on demonstration where the students got to try Blood Flow Restriction physical therapy for themselves. The students had an opportunity to provide feedback on the presentation and they all really enjoyed the in-service, especially the demonstration portion.
About B Strong
B Strong is the leading manufacturer of Blood Flow Restriction Systems. Often Blood Flow Restriction is referred to as “occlusion training”, but a key differentiator with B Strong is the design to avoid full arterial occlusion. This safety feature is unique to B Strong over other “occlusion training” systems and is what makes the product simple, safe and effective for individuals of all ages to use to get the amazing benefits of BFR. Our team is led by world renowned human performance researcher and doctor, Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD. Dr. SG has helped thousands of people improve strength and quality of life ranging from Olympic gold medalists to baby boomers.