In an ESPN report that came out Friday morning, the Houston Texans were praised for being the first team in the NFL to adopt a new type of training, called blood flow restriction (referred to as BFR).
At first sight, the term seemed unsafe to me. After all, shouldn’t we be concerned about blood flow being restricted? Isn’t it all about getting the heart pumping?
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Well, the science of it all really has to be broken down. For high intensity exercise, yes, we may want the heart pumping quickly. For instance, if you’re at the gym on a treadmill, you’d expect your heart rate to be quite high, and if it wasn’t that would be a problem.
However, this BFR type of training actually utilizes training that is low-intensity, according to the American Physiological Society. After reading through this journal and experiment entry, it’s clear that the exercise typically uses cuffs to slow blood flow while doing exercises that are actually quite simple.
It sounds like a tedious and frustrating process, as these players likely want to get back to doing big exercises, like lifting big weights. Keeping things small, however, is actually the trick to this BFR training, and is what gets players back to lifting the big weights – faster.
Essentially, what this training does is it builds muscle quicker than typical recovery training. The Texans are the first team to implement it in the NFL, and it appears that things are going great. It couldn’t come at a better time, as some of the Texans’ biggest players, including linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, currently have injuries.
So, great, the Texans are paving the way for new ways to get players back on the field quicker. But is the rehabilitation even working? After all, it is technically an experiment right now. Well, it appears that it is, in fact, working.
Within the ESPN article, Texans director of sports medicine Geoff Kaplan went on to give information about the upsides of this treatment, and how it’s helped players on the team recovering from injury.
"“The athletes are exhibiting better muscle control and making progressions… like moving from double-leg activities to single-leg… faster than what we typically see.”"
Dawg Pound Daily
Apparently one player was walking normally after being on crutches much faster than they expected him to be, as well.
Now that the Texans secret is out, other teams will likely follow suit and use it as well. But it’s no secret, really. The information has been out there. The findings with BFR training are published, the Texans were just the first team to jump on it.
All teams in the NFL could benefit from the BFR training. With the current rules and staying away from helmet to helmet hits, constantly, more below-the-waist injuries are occurring and putting players at risk for knee and leg injuries.
Since BFR is an extremely great way to quickly build strength in the legs, this type of training can quickly become a huge asset to every team in the league.
In my eyes, the Texans are being an innovative team by adopting this training first. They are paving the way towards a safer, but yet still exciting NFL, and that’s great to see.