Why Blood Flow Restriction is a Powerful New Tool in the Orthobiological World
May 30, 2023
Before I get into the specifics of this piece, let me first explain the term ‘orthobiologics’, as some of you may not be familiar with it.
In short, orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons use to help heal injuries more quickly, including the body’s own cells and other healing factors.
The reason I’m explaining this is because I was recently involved with research for a study that has major ramifications in many orthobiological procedures. In fact, our research has led to one of the most comprehensive articles on blood flow restriction (BFR) you’ll find. Blood flow restriction is a method of training, rehab or recovery that restricts the flow of blood to muscles via a controlled tourniquet. By restricting blood flow, we can increase hypertrophy and strength by using much lighter loads of resistance.
Essentially, what we are accomplishing with blood flow restriction is localized intermittent hypoxia therapy, meaning, we’re training the muscles under oxygen-reduced conditions. By doing this, we are becoming acutely aware of the importance of intermittent hypoxia therapy as well, which is an integral part of regenerative medicine.
The reason for this is because the pathways blood flow restriction stimulates are a ‘Who’s Who” among performance-improving pathways.
These include IGF-1, mTor, myostatin blockers, and erythropoietin, to mention a few. Blood flow restriction training also results in a 3-fold increase in ribosomal protein S 6 kinase beta, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and, subsequently, hypertrophy.
The essence of this therapy is that it increases the health and potentially the number of mitochondria, which is why I strongly encourage my patients after a regenerative cell procedure to utilize BFR.
One small aside, it seems that trimethylglycine may increase the anabolic effects of BFR, and I suspect it may work equally well with systemic intermittent hypoxia therapy.
Our research team performed a comprehensive study on blood flow restriction and its use in orthobiologic procedures. I’m excited because perhaps we have established a new standard of care – not just post orthobiological courses but for many different aspects of rehabilitation, like those we do regularly at PUR-FORM.
If you’d like to review our full study, visit here.
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