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Blood flow restriction training: a novel approach to augment clinical rehabilitation: how to do it
  1. Stephen D Patterson1,
  2. Luke Hughes1,
  3. Paul Head1,
  4. Stuart Warmington2,
  5. Christopher Brandner3
  1. 1School of Sport, Heath and Applied Science, St. Mary’s University, London, UK
  2. 2Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephen D Patterson, School of Sport, Heath and Applied Science, St. Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, London TWI 4SX, UK; stephen.patterson{at}

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Strength training forms a pivotal part of rehabilitation. Heavy-load strength training (60%–70% one-repetition maximum (1RM)) has been traditionally prescribed to improve muscle strength, body mass and function,1 but may be unattainable and/or confer increased risk of adverse consequences in individuals with a musculoskeletal (MSK) impairment. The challenge faced by clinical practitioners is how to effectively and safely adapt training loads throughout rehabilitation.

In the past decade, research has proven that blood flow restriction (BFR) during light-load training (eg, 20%–30% 1RM) can produce significant gains in muscle strength and size in healthy populations, in contrast to non-BFR load-matched controls.2 In this novel training method, limb blood flow is restricted via a cuff throughout the contraction cycle and rest period. This results in partial restriction of arterial inflow to muscle, but, most significantly restricts venous outflow from muscle. Given the light-load nature and strengthening capacity …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.