Monthly Archives: August 2016

Occlusion Cuff

Blood Flow Restriction Training

Blood Flow Restriction training, aka BFR, has actually been around for awhile now but its finally starting to make its way into professional and collegiate sports as well as physical therapy.  Johnny Owens has been the driving force behind BFR in the U.S. after successfully using this technology with veterans recovering from devastating combat injuries.  Since that time he’s been training numerous professional sports teams in the use of blood flow restriction training including the Detroit Lions and Detroit Red Wings.

What the heck is it?

BFR training utilizes a tourniquet-like device which is placed proximally on a limb to limit arterial inflow to the limb while blocking venous outflow.

I should add a word of warning sooner rather than later.  There are commercial devices out there used by trained professionals for this type of training.  Do not make your own tourniquet and try this at home!

Benefits

I’m going to go a bit scientific on you here but just for a moment:

  • Training loads used are only 20-35% of 1 rep max, and often times are just body weight.  The same effects with weight lifting alone must be at least 70 – 85%.  Translation:  same results with less load = happier joints.
  • Higher release of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and other substances known to speed tissue repair and create a positive environment for muscle hypertrophy.
  • Increased recruitment of Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers even with sub maximal loads
  • Increased muscle protein synthesis through the inhibition of catabolic substances.
  • Cell swelling : shift in fluid balance into the muscle cell creating a protective response to adapt and grow

Check out the chart below from Dr. Mario Novo at the LiftersClinic.com

LiftersClinic.com

Pretty cool stuff isn’t it?  Even with all the science thrown in.

How do you use it?

We work it into our rehab and training sessions closer to the end of the workout.  The build up of lactic acid will reproduce the ‘muscle burn’ sensation pretty quick causing a good amount of muscle fatigue with only body weight activities.  Body weight squats are usually a great place to start.  They are performed for 30 reps:15 reps:15reps:15 reps with 30 seconds between each set.  These will be the toughest body weight squats you’ve ever done!

The number of exercises performed and time training with blood flow restriction is gradually increased.  So far we’ve seen a rapid increase in tolerance to exercise among our athletes allowing them to do more and more work with BFR.  The results have been excellent too with quicker gains in muscle hypertrophy and strength.  If you notice the last column in the chart above – time to adaptation.  Within 2 weeks we are beginning to see positive changes compared to the traditional higher intensity training.

It might sound like I’m down playing the effects of higher intensity training regimens but I’m not at all.  There are tremendous benefits to lifting heavy and creating a great base level of strength.  BFR just offers a great way to increase training volume and intensity while decreasing load.  Over time the heavy weights will wear down your body – ask any collegiate or NFL football player – but this allows for a certain amount of unloading to happen and still reap all the benefits.

I know you want to try it!

Blood flow restriction training is safe when used with the right person at the right time and monitored appropriately.  It is also a pretty intense workout so definitely not for the faint of heart.

We are currently using BFR with athletes and patients post-knee injury, hamstring injuries, shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, and more.  Athletes that come in strictly to train have been having great success with it as well.  If you’ve struggled to make progress as a patient or hit a plateau in your training this would definitely be worth asking about.  We have a number of unique techniques to promote tissue healing and strength/power gains, and this is just one reason we have been setting ourselves apart from the competition!

Occlusion Cuff Shoulder

If you’re really into the science behind blood flow restriction training and would like to learn more, you can check out the two podcasts with Eoin Cremen (creator of the OcclusionCuff) on SportsRehabExpert.com

Questions?  Joe@eliteptt.com or give me a call at 231 421-5805

Dry Needling for Hip and Knee Pain

At Elite Physical Therapy and Sports Performance we strive to find new and innovative ways to treat pain and get you moving again.  Dry needling has been one on my go-to treatments for the past 3 years now, and the method I’m going to show you today works wonders for hip and knee pain.

The Vastus Lateralis (VL) is one of the four muscles that make up your quadricep and is the most lateral.  Trigger points in this muscle will often refer pain to the lateral knee.  Check out the photo below of the VL and corresponding trigger point referral patterns.

Vastus Lateralis Trigger Points

Even without active trigger points, the VL is often in a state of high tone which can significantly limit hip mobility in certain directions.  With it’s attachment all along the IT band, it can also create greater stress on the knee joint through that IT band.

In the video you’ll see the limitations in our patients hip adduction (her knee should hit the table when I try to lower the leg across midline).  Her right hip does this easily.  This is a fairly standard PT test, known as the Ober test in most circles.  In the video you’ll see how dramatically dry needling the Vastus Lateralis with a few minutes of muscle stimulation can change her hip mobility.

Just a quick note on the video.  This was originally created for my SportsRehabExpert.com website which is read by other PT’s, Athletic Trainers, Chiropractors, etc.  Sorry for all the medical talk but you’ll get the idea with the huge change in range of motion following the dry needling treatment.

Here are some of the common diagnoses you’ll hear from your doctor that will respond well to dry needling:

  • IT Band Syndrome
  • Runner’s Knee (distal IT band syndrome)
  • Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome/Patellar Mal-Tracking
  • Hip Bursitis

There are many other ‘diagnoses’ that can benefit from improved hip mobility but those above are what we would see most frequently.  For those that are needle-phobic, we can get similar results using Graston Technique and other manual therapy techniques, it’s just often not quite as dramatic.

There are also a number of specialized motor control and strengthening exercises that need to be used following this treatment to maintain this new mobility.  Just because she can move her hip now on the table doesn’t necessarily mean its going to move that well when she is standing, walking, or running.  Strength must also be established in that new range.

Hope that was helpful to see plus you get a bit of a glimpse at what we do here at Elite Physical Therapy and Sports Performance.

Big thanks to our Athletic Trainer, Lydia Case, for being our ‘patient’!