Blood flow restriction training found fans at the Olympics, but it brought risks

A newly popular and uncomfortable training technique used by some athletes at the Olympics has made experts dissatisfied with its benefits and risks.

Athletes from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – such as American wrestler Kayla Miracle and swimmer Michael Andrew – have been seen On social media and In the practice pool Restrict blood flow to certain limbs Take a tourniquet.

Blood flow restriction (BFR) According to Jamie Burr, associate professor and researcher of human health and nutritional sciences at the University of Guelph, this kind of training started in Japan and has attracted attention in recent years, but it has only become popular in recent years. He has been studying BFR in the laboratory for more than ten years.

In an interview with CBC News, he said that BFR allows athletes to exercise more easily and at the same time induces their bodies to react as if they are training harder. But it comes with risks.

“It actually feels like you are lifting a heavier weight,” Burr said, having tried it himself.

He said that the effect is small, but it is worthwhile for elite athletes.

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“The changes we’re talking about are usually in the range of 1% to 3%. In the Olympics, this is the difference between getting to the podium or getting off the podium or not even reaching the finals.”

But he said that if it is not done properly, BFR will bring risks, including nerve damage and thrombosis.

The results of the BFR study are mixed. Two small studies, 17 weightlifters and 31 rowers, Found that BFR increased muscle gain and maximal oxygen uptake, respectively.

But other meta-analysis found that using BFR to lift lighter weight Equally effective Either Poor effect Not just lifting heavier weights.

‘Horrible experience’

Some players on the Canadian Olympic Rugby team use BFR but only for rehabilitation after injury. According to physical therapist Danielle Mah, he worked with some players until they traveled to Tokyo.

“It’s like a terrible experience, but they will definitely take it,” she said.

An athlete wears a harness during exercise to restrict blood flow to the legs. Some athletes in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and members of the Canadian rugby team after injury are using this technology. (Turgut Yate/CBC)

“It’s an uncomfortable process, but in fact they can maintain muscle mass after the operation. In situations where they can’t train, this is a great tool.”

She said that the football team would not use it for general training because its benefits are minimal compared to traditional weight training.

Dr. Christopher Raynor said he doubts whether blood flow resistance training is suitable for athletes who have not recovered from an injury. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Dr. Christopher Raynor, an orthopedic sports medicine physician in Cornwall, Ontario, said that rehabilitation training is the right time to use BFR. He said it is suitable for patients with limited health, such as those who have just been injured or undergoing surgery, but he hopes to see more evidence that it is suitable for a wider range of training.

“Maybe it works, but I really can’t hang my hat on it,” Renault said in an interview.

He pointed out that the studies that have been completed used a small sample size, and the ideal compression size is not yet known.

On Wednesday, Canada’s Lucas Hammond (right), Phil Berner (center right) and Theo Saud will participate in the men’s rugby sevens at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Kajiyama Shuji/Associated Press)

He said that Olympic athletes can try BFR because they are in a unique position.

“They are willing to take risks because if you can lead your opponent by a hundredth of a second, then you become a gold medalist and they become a silver medalist. So they are willing to do this,” he said.

“But we must also remember that when they travel, they have a complete medical team to accompany them.”

Timothy Caulfield, chair of Canadian health, law and policy research at the University of Alberta, said that BFR is different from other fitness trends that appear at every Olympics.

He said that it has “biological rationality”, and trends like cupping- Michael Phelps And the prime minister Justin Trudeau Tried both-no. Cupping is a technique that uses a heated cup to create suction on the skin to relieve pain.

“I think we always need to be careful about how to translate science, especially in a motion space involving so many variables,” Caulfield said.

“Usually these things are presented as if they will bring huge benefits. But usually for recreational athletes, if it exists, the benefits may be much smaller.”

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