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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2011 Oct;21(5):653-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01100.x. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

Relative safety of 4 weeks of blood flow-restricted resistance exercise in young, healthy adults.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Institute for Neuromusculoskeletal Research, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA.


This study evaluated the effect of 4 weeks of low-load resistance exercise with blood flow restriction (BFRE) on increasing strength in comparison with high-load resistance exercise (HLE), and assessed changes in blood, vascular and neural function. Healthy adults performed leg extension BFRE or HLE 3 days/week at 30% and 80% of strength, respectively. During BFRE, a cuff on the upper leg was inflated to 30% above systolic blood pressure. Strength, pulse-wave velocity (PWV), ankle-brachial index (ABI), prothrombin time (PT) and nerve conduction (NC) were measured before and after training. Markers of coagulation (fibrinogen and D-dimer), fibrinolysis [tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)] and inflammation [high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)] were measured in response to the first and last exercise bouts. Strength increased 8% with BFRE and 13% with HLE (P<0.01). No changes in PWV, ABI, PT or NC were observed following training for either group (P>0.05). tPA antigen increased 30-40% immediately following acute bouts of BFRE and HLE (P=0.01). No changes were observed in fibrinogen, D-dimer or hsCRP (P>0.05). These findings indicate that both protocols increase the strength without altering nerve or vascular function, and that a single bout of both protocols increases fibrinolytic activity without altering selected markers of coagulation or inflammation in healthy individuals.

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