The Effects of Restriction Pressure on Muscle Damage Responses to Blood Flow Restriction Exercise

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Surrey
Updated on 29 June 2022
muscle damage
Accepts healthy volunteers


Blood flow restriction (BFR) exercise involves the application of a constriction device to the limbs to restrict muscle blood flow during exercise. In recent years, BFR has become increasingly popular due to its additive effects on low-load resistance training, often promoting greater increases in muscle strength and size compared to similar resistance training without BFR. However, like other exercise, it is possible that BFR exercise can cause exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) that results in short-term reductions in muscle function and increased muscle soreness and swelling. One major variable that may influence the onset of EIMD is the restriction pressure used to restrict blood flow; however, the influence of restriction pressure on resistance EIMD is unclear.

The purpose of this study is to investigate effects of two different restriction pressures (low and high) on EIMD responses to a bout of low-load BFR resistance exercise in a sample of healthy, active adults. It is hypothesised that a higher restriction pressure will result in increased EIMD compared to a lower restriction pressure. To test this hypothesis, participants will perform a lower-body exercise protocol with and without BFR, and several markers of EIMD will be assessed before and immediately, 24, 48, and 72 hours after the exercise.


Following screening for the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the study, eligible participants will be fully informed of the study purposes and procedures and written consent will be acquired. During this study, participants will be randomly allocated into one of two experimental groups, with each group performing blood flow-restricted knee extension exercise with one leg and the same exercise protocol without BFR with the contralateral leg. Experimental groups will be differentiated by the tourniquet pressure used during the BFR condition. Several indirect markers of EIMD will be assessed at baseline and 24, 48, and 72 hours after the exercise bout. Additional neuromuscular assessments will be performed immediately post-exercise to provide insight into the fatiguability of the exercise protocol.

Participants will be required to attend the laboratory on five separate occasions: one visit for screening, assessment of limb occlusion pressure (i.e., the lowest pressure required to occlude blood flow to the limb), and familiarisation of the exercise protocol and neuromuscular assessments, one visit for completion of the exercise protocol and baseline/post-exercise tests, and three follow-up visits. All participants will be asked to refrain from alcohol and exercise from 24 hours prior to the exercise trial up to their final visit. The consumption of any pain-relieving medications (e.g., anti-inflammatory drugs) and undergoing of any muscle damage treatments (e.g., massage) will be prohibited throughout the study. To minimise the effects of pre-exercise feeding on the outcome measures, visits will be scheduled for the morning and participants will attend the lab following an overnight fast of a minimum of 10 hours, although water may be consumed ad libitum. All post-exercise measures will be collected at the same time of day ± 1 hours.

Condition Muscle Damage, Muscle Soreness, Muscle Strength
Treatment Blood flow restriction at 40% limb occlusion pressure, Blood flow restriction at 80% limb occlusion pressure
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05037942
SponsorUniversity of Surrey
Last Modified on29 June 2022

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