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Muscle Medicine

Oct 4, 2018

Nick Rolnick, a physical therapist who specializes in blood flow restriction therapy (BFR) shares how this technique, if properly applied, has a huge range of benefits for building and maintaining muscle using methods seldom applied through traditional training. After taking Nick’s course in BFR, I’ve started to integrate it into my own practice, and now want to share it with you!

Nick works with a wide range of clients to help them build muscle during athletic training or rehab using BFR. He is well versed in the latest research surrounding the topic and views himself as a “human performance mechanic” helping patients diagnose imbalances in their bodies and keep themselves in perfect balance.

BFR involves using a class-1 medical device wrapped around the arm or leg to increase muscle oxygen demand to get muscle mass and strength gains at lower intensities than you would need to otherwise. Maintaining your muscle mass is incredibly important. If done correctly, BFR allows you to exercise with less frequency and intensity than you would normally need to.

Since it originated in the 1960s in Japan, BFR has been used in rehab and athletic training settings around the world. The research into BFR’s benefits is ongoing and we are constantly learning more about how it can be extremely beneficial in many different circumstances.

Have you integrated BFR into your practice? Let us know how it’s going in the comments on the episode page!


In this episode

  • What BFR is and who it is and isn’t a good fit for
  • The reasons why maintaining your muscle mass is so important to longevity and quality of life
  • What the research says about standardizing BFR therapy
  • How this therapy can help people strength train during rehab
  • How to explain BFR to patients so that they understand how it works and what its benefits are



“What blood flow restriction does is it stimulates those muscles so we can get that adaptation with heavy strength-training and heavier lifting, but we can use much less weight and so we don’t put a lot of stress on the joints. That’s really cool from a rehab perspective and also a performance perspective.” [4:31]

There’s this sweet spot that BFR can accelerate which is getting to that period of time where we’re trying to create as much effort as possible in the contraction that slows down that contraction and that creates maximum overlap in the filaments in the muscle that signal hypertrophy.” [12:43]

“Muscle mass by itself is a predictor of morbidity and mortality, so how well we live our life and when our life ends. So the more that we can have, the better.” [13:59]

“Our bodies actually, for the metabolic stress that happens, the lack of oxygen severely stresses that muscle cell and forces the adaptation, which is great, but it's a very novel feeling.” [39:24]



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The BFR Pros

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Check out the full show notes for this episode here

Urban Wellness Clinic

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