Sometimes, it can be difficult to work around your pain—whether that’s surgical, chronic, from a recent injury, or otherwise. Many people find that rigorous, intense exercise may not be appropriate, as it can damage any healing tissue or exacerbates pain. Conversely, low-intensity exercise oftentimes isn’t enough to create positive adaptations for healing, pain, or overall function.
One innovative treatment option is to utilize blood flow restriction training (BFR). BFR is a technique that utilizes a gentle tourniquet system on your arms or legs during abbreviated bouts of exercise. The reduced amount of blood flow creates greater fatigue and muscle activation while lifting lower loads or weights.
BFR has been shown to reduce pain across a training program in a range of clinical conditions. One study focusing on knee pain, for instance, found that a single bout of low intensity knee extension exercise using BFR was found to reduce anterior knee pain immediately after the exercise. This effect was sustained for a minimum of 45 minutes, and allowed the individuals to better tolerate exercise with greater loads during this 45 minute period.