No Differences in Exercise Performance, Perceptual Response, or Safety Were Observed Among 3 Blood Flow Restriction Devices

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Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil


PURPOSE: To compare 3 separate blood flow restriction (BFR) systems in their capacity to reduce repetitions to failure, impact perceptual responses, and cause adverse events during a low-load free-flow exercise.

METHODS: The study included healthy subjects aged 18 years or older who presented to an ambulatory-care sports medicine clinic. On day 1, participants' demographic characteristics and anthropomorphic measurements were recorded. Each participant performed dumbbell biceps curl repetitions to failure using 20% of his or her 1-repetition maximum weight with each arm. Participants were exposed to 3 different tourniquet systems for familiarization. On day 2, each participant's arm was randomized to a cuff system, and the participant performed 2 sets of biceps curl repetitions to failure with the cuff inflated. Repetitions to failure, rating of perceived effort (RPE), rating of perceived discomfort, and pulse oxygenation levels were recorded after each set. On day 3, participants completed a survey of their perceived delayed-onset muscle soreness.

RESULTS: The final analysis was performed on 42 arms, with 14 limbs per system. The study population had a mean age of 28.7 ± 2.4 years and a mean body mass index of 24.9 ± 4.3. All 3 systems successfully reduced repetitions to failure compared with unrestricted low-load exercise from baseline to BFR set 1 and from baseline to BFR set 2. There were no significant between-group differences among BFR systems regarding the number of repetitions to failure performed at baseline versus BFR set 1 or BFR set 2. The Delfi Personalized Tourniquet System (PTS) cohort had the greatest reductions in repetitions to failure from BFR set 1 to BFR set 2 (P = .002) and reported the highest RPE after set 2 (P = .025).

CONCLUSIONS: The Delfi PTS, SmartCuffs Pro, and BStrong BFR systems were each safe and were able to significantly reduce repetitions to failure compared with a low-load free-flow condition when used in a BFR exercise protocol. The Delfi PTS system may produce a higher RPE with prolonged use in comparison to the other systems.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II, prospective cohort study.

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