What is blood flow restriction and is it safe?

Blood flow restriction might sound like some kind of intense, invasive medical procedure, but it’s actually a training method some athletes are using as part of their training for the Olympics.

It was first conceived by Japanese powerlifter Yoshiaki Sato in 1966, who dedicated much of his life to promoting and developing the method.

Blood flow restriction essentially involves tying tourniquet-like bands to their arms and/or legs in the hopes that it’ll help their muscles work harder and recover faster.

American swimmer Michael Andrew and American distance runner Galen Rupp have both been seen wearing tourniquet-esque bands during training, which has got some buzz for the method going after over 50 years.

But, especially with the shock of Christian Eriksen suffering cardiac arrest during the Euros fresh in our minds, you have to wonder whether messing with your body’s natural blood flow is actually safe…

Is blood flow restriction dangerous?

If blood flow restriction sounds like something you want to try, you’ll need to talk to a physiotherapist who can give you some professional advice rather than trying it by yourself.

Tom Mitchell, two-time Olympic Team GB Rugby captain and VIVO Life ambassador, tells Metro.co.uk that he’s tried blood flow restriction in the past when getting back to training after an injury.

He says: ‘It can be really effective, particularly for lower body muscle groups.

‘I think people are exploring how best to utilise the technique to get benefits. There is nothing wrong with that at all, as long as it’s safe and well thought through.

‘Often people jump on these “trends” without sufficient knowledge. I always take advice from the coaches and physios who truly know their stuff and would advise anyone else to do the same.

‘It’s not a good idea to give something like this a go yourself, as with many different training techniques, or even when it comes to nutrition.

‘Always seek expert advice and do things properly.’

When asked if he had any tips for those interested in giving it a try, Tom stresses the need for getting a professional involved, saying: ‘Do it with a strength and conditioning coach/physio who has read up on the science and knows the technique.

‘Use proper occlusion cuffs designed specifically for this with accurate pressure gauges.’

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