Is BFR Safe?

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The eternal question is whether BFRE is safe? The simple answer is Yes, particularly with Fit Cuffs®

We recommend to either use our algorithmic pressure at Fit Cuffs Training or a percentage (40-80%) of Limb Occlusion Pressure (LOP).

As a rule of thumb when using Fit Cuffs in combination with low-load resistance training, use only one exercise as 30x15x15x15 reps, at about 20-30% 1RM, with 30-45 s. inter-set rest, without going to failure. This is only recommended to avoid severe muscle damage for your first session of BFR, as gradual exposure is the key for both progression and safety.

When Fit Cuffs is utilized with the proper precautions and safety measures, it is highly effective at augmenting the physiological adaptations to low-load resistance and aerobic training in all populations regardless of age or training status.

Though, there are rare cases where one should not use BFR i.e. absolute contraindications, but in reality, most contraindications are relative, that is why the accumulated amount of frailty for a person is vital.

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That is why, we advise you to consult with your physician before you start using Fit Cuffs if any of the following apply:

  • Chronic heart disease
  • Untreated Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Concurrent treatment for cancer, or you’ve recently completed cancer treatment
  • Untreated high blood pressures
  • Clotting problems or abnormal bleeding problems (coagulation)
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Damaged or chronic veins or arteries
  • BMI> 35
  • Pregnancy
  • Open wounds or stitches in the area where you want to attache the cuff
  • Severe rejuvenate in the legs
  • Severe functional disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypochondria

The more co-morbidities someone has, the more likely that BFR is contraindicated, but no actual recommendation can be made, so far, the clinician or physician must decide whether a client should do BFR.

The data from a survey (Nakajima, et al. 2016) from 2006 – 2016 in 12827 individual at 232 different facilities, shows that the incidence of side effects from BFR had about the same relative risk as conventional exercise.

Most importantly, a thorough patient history and examination before use will help identify absolute contraindications to BFR. These include history of DVT, Stage III or greater hypertension, higher class arrhythmias, early post-operative period from major surgery, and acute sickness or fever.

When conducting the exercise be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Sensation of numbness
  • Pins and needles
  • Uncomfortable tingling
  • Severe discomfort
  • Lightheadness or dizziness
  • Hypertension
  • Headache
  • Subcutaneous hemorrhage
  • Cool Feeling in the limbs

Haemodynamics (dynamics of blood flow) after BFR have shown no evidence for increased risk of thrombosis, when studying possible contraindications.

The cuff should only be placed at the upper arm or upper thigh. We do not recommend to place the cuffs at the forearms or calf as the arteries and nerves are more superficial in these areasm which substantially increases the risk of injury.


  1. Patterson et al. (2019) Blood Flow Restriction Exercise, Considerations of Methodology Application, and Safety.
  3. Yasuda et al. (2016) Use and safety of KAATSU training- Results of a national survey in 2016
  4. Nakajima et al. (2006) Use and safety of KAATSU training: Results of a national survey.
  5. Nascimento et al. (2019) – Potential Implications of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise on Vascular Health.
  6. Wernbom et al. (2019) Risk of Muscle Damage With Blood Flow–Restricted Exercise Should Not Be Overlooked.
  7. Wernbom et al. (2020) Commentary: Can Blood Flow Restricted Exercise Cause Muscle Damage? Commentary on Blood Flow Restriction Exercise: Considerations of Methodology, Application, and Safety.
  8. Cezar et al. (2016) Effects of exercise training with blood flow restriction on blood pressure in medicated hypertensive patients
  9. Heitkamp (2015) Training with blood flow restriction. Mechanisms, gain in strength and safety
  10. Loenneke (2011) Potential safety issues with blood flow restriction training
  11. Nakajima et al. (2011) Key considerations when conducting KAATSU training
  12. Wernbom et al. (2011) Contractile function and sarcolemmal permeability after acute low-load resistance exercise with blood flow restriction
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