The short answer is no, you don't need a certification to use blood flow restriction training. The BFR is within the scope of practice for both physical therapists and athletic trainers. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), blood flow restriction training is part of the scope of practice of a licensed physical therapist. Under the APTA, additional BFR certification is NOT required, however, therapists must be competent and follow evidence-based practice.
Blood flow restriction training can help patients gain greater gains in strength training while lifting lighter loads, thus reducing overall stress placed on the limb. The occlusion cuff restricts venous return (blood is pumped from the muscles back to the heart), although it does not restrict arterial blood flow (blood being pumped to the muscles) to the same degree (Patterson et al. Stray-Gundersen, “the muscle pump squeezes blood out of the distended capillaries and veins, passes the venous obstruction and passes into the central circulation. Todd Durkin, an ACE certified personal trainer based in San Diego and owner of Fitness Quest10, recently started using BFR for his own personal workouts.
With the restriction of blood flow, muscles are forced to stay longer in these metabolites, which causes greater adaptations. Like any exercise method, it is not known exactly how BFR causes hypertrophy; however, according to numerous studies carried out on the technique, occlusion of venous blood flow combined with resistance training at a relatively low intensity seems to create the specific mechanisms responsible for hypertrophy. If all the talk you've heard about bfr training has piqued your interest and you're eager to learn more, consider taking the Smart Cuffs Level 1 Blood Flow Restriction Certification Course. It's natural to wonder if you should avoid using BFR with clients who have high blood pressure or vascular disease.
While a specific certification is not required to take the BFR, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced professional before participating in this type of training. Each method is applied around the upper thigh or upper arm, using enough pressure to allow arterial blood inflow while occluding venous outflow. When the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is greater than the production of ATP, which occurs during exercise at higher intensities, there is a rapid accumulation of by-products (metabolites), which can change the acidity of the blood. Johnny Owens, PT, MPT, and Stephania Bell, PT, discuss Blood Flow Restriction training within physical therapy.
The venous outflow goes from a reasonably constant flow with exercise without BFR, to one in which there are periods of absence of flow (muscle relaxation) and high flow (during muscle contraction), which causes a metabolic crisis in the muscles.