ABOUT BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION TRAINING
We Have Opinions, but they are based on the evidence of more than 600 Case Studies (and we don't cherry pick!)
To get the job done, you will see lots of claims about cuffs that are wide, narrow, flexible, rigid and more. The facts are the cuff width is a factor of safety first, comfort second, and effectiveness third. Why is effectiveness third? Well if it is not comfortable what are the chances that you will use it?
Another consideration when using cuffs during exercise is "how portable is that cuff?" You don't want a cuff that tethers you to an electronic device you wear on your waist! (remember the Walkman!)
Fact: Cuff width for arms should not be less than 5cm wide and not more than 10cm. Why? On the narrow side (<5cm), you have the risk of occlusion, nerve damage, and pain to name a few. On the wide side (>10cm), you have the chance of slowing NVC (nerve conduction velocity), creating rhabdomyolysis (muscle crushing), and pain when the cuff covers the muscle during exercise contraction.
WHY A CUFF AND NOT A STRAP OR SURGICAL TOURNIQUET?
Ease of Use, Measurement
So you might ask "why is RockCuff a cuff and not a strap or surgical cuff?". Well, it boils down to this - with a fixed cuff, we can measure progress accurately.
Ease of Use - We invite you to experience the difference. RockCuff will be on in less than 2-seconds! Straps? Maybe 15 seconds and forget surgical cuffs, they can take 30 seconds plus!
Measurement - RockCuff gives you a consistent method to record tightness accurately. Theses are just as accurate as more expensive surgical cuff alternatives for measuring progress and recording clinical records.
Straps may have marks, but with them, it's a guessing game, tight? Too tight? As uncomfortable as yesterday? Safe?Effective? Who knows.
Air pressure cuffs? If you didn't take the course for the $4,000 tethered cuffs or if you forgot to charge the battery, good luck. Even the cheaper air-bladder cuffs require you to open an app, determine your pressure, thread the cuff, attach the pump and pump-pump-pump, in the middle of the gym. Yikes.
EFFECTIVE OCCLUSION - TIGHTNESS
If you are going to do BFRT, you might as well do it right. There is a lot of debate about effective occlusion, but it boils down to this. First, never, ever fully occlude arterial flow. That will lead to problems like DVT's (deep vein thrombosis), and that is to be avoided.
When it comes to arterial occlusion it's possible to go from 0 to 100% occlusion. However, the ideal range according to research (1) seems to be to occlude at 20% and 805% to get the maximum benefit. How can you tell? Our proprietary tightening system combined with the users' Rate of Perceived Fatigue (RPF®) provide an accurate measurement of effectiveness.
(1)Lixandrão, Manoel E., et al. "Effects of exercise intensity and occlusion pressure after 12 weeks of resistance training with blood-flow restriction." European journal of applied physiology 115.12 (2015): 2471-2480.
Further, a questionnaire-based survey (2) sent to 250 participants showed a wide variety of pressures used by the 115 respondants who used BFR as shown in the chart below.
(2) Patterson, Bradner "The role of blood flow restriction training for applied practitioners: A questionnaire-based survey." J Sports Sci.
2018 Jan;36(2):123-130. doi.1080/02640414.2017.1284341. Epub 2017 Feb 1.
REPS AND SETS
Doing It Right
There are a couple of different preferences here. Some experts suggest doing sets of 30 - 30 -30 while others campaign for 30 - 15 -15 - 15. Either choice seems effective. What is not emphasized is the rest interval in-between sets. The rest interval becomes essential because during this time, there is no muscle contraction. Wth no contraction the venous flow "pools" meaning that the muscle fatigue signals are delayed to the brain.
The effect of this is that the slowed arterial flow, which has not been totally occluded, does not replenish the muscle cells causing a quick transition from slow-twitch fibers to fast twitch Type II. It's this transition that accelerates the effect of BFRT.
Fast twitch Type II by their nature do not have lots of stored endurance, so they call on the body to manufacture the chemicals they need to continue on. Some researchers have called this the anaerobic effect.
So at the end of the day, remember, while sets, reps, and resistance play a role, it is the rest cycle that amplifies results, and we suggest 30 seconds to 45 seconds.
Play It Safe!
Just like any exercise program, it is always wise to consult your doctor or health care professional before beginning.
However, some pre-existing conditions may disqualify you from using BFR or may require treatment to reduce the chance of injury.
First, if you have a history of clotting disorders, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) you should not use BFRT. Similarly, a history of hemorrhagic/thrombotic stroke.
If you have untreated high blood pressure, reading 140/100 or above, you should seek treatment before using. The same goes from low blood pressure with a reading of 90/60 or less.
Other disqualifying conditions include rhabdomyolysis, or a recent injury or crash and starting while you are pregnant or within 6 months of post-partum pregnancy.
Your current medications may also pose a risk. Many of these are also issues with almost all forms of exercise so do not be discouraged. Get the advice of a professional first.
Special Note: If you or your patient have had a recent surgery, the contraindications are more critical due to the after-effects of the surgical procedure which in and of itself accelerates the development of DVT's. So take great care and refer to the Patient Intake document in the app and apply pre-screening.
HOW DOES BFRT DIFFER FOR ELITE VERSUS EVERYDAY ATHLETES
There is a Measurable Difference
A number of studies show that while effective, BFRT at its very best cannot match the same results that are achieved with high intensity training (HIT'S). But dont be discouraged, other studies show that when combined with regular training,when BFRT is added at the end of a session, it can increase performance by up to 10% quickly.
If you are a normal, everyday athlete, it is unlikely that you can maintain a daily regimine of HITS. It is likely that even if you do, you will suffer some sort of stress injury. for example studies show that on average, 85% of long idstance runners suffer an injury every year. BFRT combined with LI (low intensity) workouts have been show to deliver up to 95% of the results achieved by regular HITS)
So BFRT is a viable option for everyday and elite alike.
HOW DOES BFRT ADD SIZE?
Just the Facts
Also called hypertrophy, many studies have shown that BFRT can add significant size to both the engaged muscle and for muscles that are proximal and distal to the engaged muscles. What does this mean? It means that when applying the cuff to the upper arm, you involve not only the bicep but also the pectoralis major (proximal) and even the triceps brachii (distal) when you perform our specially designed routines.
Studies show that the chemical and hormonal messengers sent to the distressed muscles, cause a chemical interaction that approximates the same effect as the "tearing" that occurs with extremely high weight or reps.
When the muscle fiber remains undamaged, the net effect is that while you may be "sore" from the build-up of lactic acid, there is no damage. So you can repeat BFRT workouts twice a day if you want without creating lasting damage.
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