17 Aug The Best Blood Flow Restriction Bands and Devices
The Best Blood Flow Restriction Bands
I am frequently asked about the best devices for performing blood flow restriction training. As with any trend in the fitness world, many manufacturers have designed blood flow restriction products recently. Like most fitness tools, the best device is highly related to your goals. Unfortunately, some devices on the market have the potential to cause more harm than good. This makes choosing the appropriate device important for both your health and for consistency of performance.
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This article will focus on helping you choose the best device for BFR. Choosing the right device based on your goals and safety needs is the first and most important step in implementing BFR into your training or rehab program. My other articles cover the science behind BFR and how to apply it to your performance goals.
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The most commonly used piece of equipment for BFR is compression bands. These bands have one great advantage in that they are very cheap and many athletes already have a set.
The athlete wraps his or her extremity with a compression band at 4-5/10 intensity for the upper arm, or 6-7/10 intensity for the legs is most commonly prescribed.
The major drawback of these compression bands is that they cannot be reliably performed in multiple workouts at the same level of occlusion. It makes standardizing the level of pressure very difficult.
So, one workout may be super intense at the prescribed weight and reps, while the next may be unbelievably easy.
BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION BANDS
Up next, you’ll find various commercially sold blood flow restriction bands. Similar to the compression bands, these are relatively inexpensive.
They do have two major drawbacks. The level of occlusion with these cannot be reliably reproduced making session to session intensity vary wildly. More importantly, many of these bands are very thin. Thus, the pressure of the band is put through a much smaller area, risking injury to the underlying nerves. In fact, on several occasions, these bands have created nerve paralysis. So, if you are buying one of these bands, please choose one that is thick, preferably covering about ¼ to 1/3 of the extremity.
The Edge BFR Device
The Edge BFR System has been recently released and does a great job of addressing the above problems. It is essentially a specialized blood pressure cuff designed for blood flow restriction training for home use. And, at only $119, it’s a great deal, given that the sphygmomanometer on the device allows the individual to measure the level of pressure. This means workouts will be more standardized to the individual, and the same amount of pressure can be applied at different workouts.
DELPHI PERSONAL TOURNIQUET SYSTEM
The gold standard blood flow restriction training device is the Delphi Personal Tourniquet System from OwensRecoveryScience.com. This device contains a Doppler ultrasound within the blood flow restriction cuff. This means we have the most accurate way possible to measure blood flow in the extremity and can precisely occlude the appropriate amount of flow. Safety features within the device include rapid shut-offs, automatic times, and the Doppler are amazing features.
Most importantly, for those in the medical community, the Delphi Blood Flow Restriction device is and FDA-listed device for BFR. The FDA defines full or partial vascular occlusion under “tourniquets” and is regulated that way. Thus, if a patient were to have a negative side effect during BFR training while using a Delphi unit, you can feel legally safe. Using other devices opens you up to litigation because a non-FDA approved device is being used to restrict blood flow.
So, What’s The Best?
There are two winners:
First, the Edge BFR Device is the best for athletes. Its ability to measure pressure to accurately reproduce pressure between workouts is great. At a price tag of $119, it meets most people’s budgets as well.
For the rehab professional, the Delphi unit wins. This machine is fantastic, with doppler ultrasound and safety features built-in. The FDA-approval also makes it the best option from a legal standpoint.