“I’ve already tried Physical Therapy, and it didn’t work for me.”
Far too often…we hear this when talking with people about their pain or injury. When we ask those same people what they did in previous Physical Therapy programs, they usually mention they did a few exercises and stretches that didn’t help. For most individuals, the previous Physical Therapy experience can be summed up as an evaluation from a PT and they were then given an exercise sheet to follow on their own at home.
The issue with this is that those exercises can be painful and uncomfortable. Now, people are left with even more pain and confusion on how to stay active with their current problem. Those same exercises can get boring quite fast making it difficult to adhere to the program. Finally, many individuals were not provided with any explanation on how those exercises are going to get them back to the things they love and want to be doing again.
Exercise in Physical Therapy should be FUN and in the majority of cases not cause more pain. When this can’t be accomplished with traditional exercises, we use Blood Flow Restriction Training.
Blood Flow Restriction Training or Cuff Training is a new intervention used by Physical Therapists that allows people to exercise to fatigue and “good” muscle soreness without irritating their injured tissue. This mode of exercise enables people to strength train at low intensities (minimal added weights), but still create a beneficial response within their muscles. Cuff Training is perfect for those with an achy and painful joint that makes exercise challenging to perform.
Blood Flow Restriction Training may sound scary and intimidating at first, but it’s a very safe and effective treatment. How does it work? A cuff is placed around a limb (arm or leg) and pressure is built in the cuff to restrict SOME of your blood flow, not all of it. We are primarily reducing some of your venous return so the blood stays within the muscle for a greater length of time. This process creates an environment within a muscle normally seen after long bouts of high intensity exercise at a quicker rate and lower intensity. These metabolites and chemicals that get pooled within the muscle help stimulate growth. To sum it up, the cuff helps to speed up the process within our bodies that is necessary for muscle hypertrophy (aka: muscle growth).
A common use of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training is for individuals suffering from arthritic joint pain. We can also use it for those who recently have been in a cast or brace and have experienced muscle atrophy or muscle loss from the immobilization. People who have recently had surgery and are looking to get back into exercise can use Cuff Training to safely introduce exercise again. Lastly, BFR Training can be used for athletes to strength train in-season without having to stress their bodies with heavy weights and intensities.
Here’s a Quick Example of Someone that has Benefited from Cuff Training at PRO Therapy.
John, 58 years of age, who came to us with a two-year history of achy, knee pain that was now becoming more intense with stairs and squatting motions. He has recently been trying to strengthen his leg with lunges, squats and other various exercises he found online. However, all of the exercises cause pain at his knee. He has been stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting to exercise but was frustrated by how much pain it was causing at his knee.
John’s program consisted of 5 weeks of Blood Flow Restriction Training primarily performing exercises less intense than squats, lunges and stairs that were not repetitively causing pain at his knee. Due to the physiological benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training, he was able to build muscle and strength around his knee while performing exercises that did not hurt! Each exercise had a specific purpose to get him back to his original goal, and every Cuff Training session was performed with a Physical Therapist guiding him the entire time.
To summarize, Blood Flow Restriction Training is a tool used in rehabilitation that allows for people to exercise at lower intensities but still create muscle growth and improve strength performance. It’s a great tool for those who are struggling to exercise due to pain. It’s engaging and far more comprehensive than those exercise sheets you may have been given from previous Physical Therapists. To learn more about how Blood Flow Restriction Training and Physical Therapy may benefit you, call us directly at 612-767-9917 to set up a FREE Discovery Visit with a Doctor of Physical Therapy today!