Here is a firsthand example of how BFR training can be used in conjunction with a proper recovery program to help improve quality of life and allow patients to accelerate their performance & recovery back to the activities they love.
This patient was a 44 y/o female physique competitor with 8 years of training experience. She had a history of chronic over training: 6x/week, beyond failure on each exercise, chasing soreness as a sign of progress, no deloads, etc. Naturally, she developed pretty debilitating shoulder and lateral elbow pain. By the time she reached out to me this was her level of function:
-Light banded rows
-Unable to perform any curl or press down variation
-Unable to perform a table push up
-Unable to perform OHP of any kind
-Pain with daily activities such as pouring coffee and opening doors.
As is usually the case, training was foundational to her life. Stress due to COVID and her job were high and the inability to train was not making things better. Going from “Animal Pak ad” training to banded rows was a hard hit to her life.
Here’s what we did:
Red flags were ruled out, I provided a heck of a lot of education, and time was spent building alliance. We restructured her program and agreed that focusing a bit on stress management and sleep would be crucial. Given her history of chasing the feeling of “intensity,” I figured BFR training would be a nice way to get her through
this early stage of high sensitivity since we would be able to use light loads and still get a training stimulus. We used BFR training for light curls, press downs, and some isolated wrist/forearm and grip work. It ended up being a really great way to start the process! She progressed from there to training in her home gym with modifications in place as needed (load, RPE, tempo work, ROM, exercise selection, etc.). She is now on a better program, has a whole new paradigm about training, and is well on her way to progressing in the Iron Game for years to come!
****Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story. The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.
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