Preprint / Version 1

Beneath the Cuff

Often Overlooked and Under-Reported Blood Flow Restriction Device Characteristics and their Potential Impact on Practice


  • Nicholas Rolnick The Human Performance Mechanic
  • Kyle Kimbrell Owens Recovery Science
  • Victor De Queiros Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte – UFRN (Brazil)



BFR training, safety, autoregulation, bladder, kaatsu, occlusion training


Exercise with blood flow restriction (BFR) has been shown to be a useful technique to improve muscle mass, muscle strength and a host of other physiological benefits in both healthy and injured populations using low intensities (20-30% 1-repetition maximum or < 50% VO2max). However, as BFR is gaining popularity in both practice and research, there is a lack of awareness for potentially important design characteristics and features associated with BFR cuff application that may impact the acute and longitudinal responses to training as well as the safety profile of BFR exercise. While cuff width and cuff material have been somewhat addressed in the literature, other cuff design and features have received less attention. This manuscript highlights additional cuff design and features and hypothesizes on their potential to impact the response and safety profile of BFR. Features including the presence of autoregulation during exercise, the type of bladder system used, the shape of the cuff, the set pressure versus the interface pressure, the ratio of bladder to cuff width, and the bladder length will be addressed as these variables have the potential to alter the responses to BFR training. As more devices enter the marketplace for consumer purchase, investigations specifically looking at their impact is warranted. We propose numerous avenues for future research to help shape the practice of BFR that may ultimately enhance efficacy and safety using a variety of BFR technologies.


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Author Biographies

Kyle Kimbrell, Owens Recovery Science

Kyle works as a Clinical Educator for Owens Recovery Science where he produces educational content, teaches their certification course, as well as consults on a wide range of cases and research projects.

Victor De Queiros, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte – UFRN (Brazil)

Victor De Queiros - Bachelor and Master in Physical Education; PhD Student in Health Sciences – Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte – UFRN (Brazil). His areas of interest are physical training with blood flow restriction, resistance training, muscle hypertrophy, fatigue.


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