Another value is for older triathletes wanting to buffer age-related loss of lean muscle mass, in particular fast-twitch fibers that key to explosive power and speed. BFR has been described by its founder as a form of anti-aging medicine, and the research is backing the claim.
Just 40 days before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Todd Lodwick, an Olympic silver medalist in 2010 and one of the USA’s top Nordic skiers, suffered a crash, breaking several ribs and trashing a rotator cuff. First impressions were that his season was over. Yet when the U.S. team marched in the opening ceremonies, Lodwick was the flag bearer, even using his injured side to carry the flag. He raced in Sochi and finished his 6th Olympic Games.
The miraculous recovery was credited to the use of two-times-day blood flow restriction training overseen by Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD, a pioneer in BFR as well as high-low altitude training. The crash happened on a Friday and to prevent the wave of atrophy that injury immobilization traditional produces, Stray-Gundersen had Lodwick performing two BFR workouts a day. They monitored Lodwick’s progress through x-rays and watched the shoulder heal.
The origins of BFR suggest that Lodwick’s recovery shouldn’t have been a surprise. Developed in Japan about 50 years ago by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, a Japanese sports scientist, BFR came about after Sato paid attention to the muscle fatigue he felt after sitting during a long funeral. He later reverse-engineered his observation and after he broke an ankle and injured a knee skiing, he experimented with bike tubes and judo belts to restrict blood flow to the muscles while he wore a cast. When he went in to have the cast changed—a ritual procedure because casts shrink the encased muscle via atrophy—Sato’s doctors were shocked to see a ready-to-go set of leg muscles at full size. . .
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