Comparison of the acute perceptual and blood pressure response to heavy load and light load blood flow restriction resistance exercise in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction patients and non-injured populations

Luke Hughes, Bruce Paton, Fares Haddad, Benjamin Rosenblatt, Conor Gissane, Stephen David Patterson
Physical Therapy in Sport 2018, 33: 54-61

OBJECTIVES: To compare the acute perceptual and blood pressure responses to: 1) light load blood flow restriction resistance exercise (BFR-RE) in non-injured individuals and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) patients; and 2) light load BFR-RE and heavy load RE (HL-RE) in ACLR patients.

DESIGN: Between-subjects, partially-randomised.

METHODS: This study comprised 3 groups: non-injured BFR-RE (NI-BFR); ACLR patients BFR-RE (ACLR-BFR); ACLR patients HL-RE (ACLR-HL). NI-BFR and ACLR-BFR performed 4 sets (30, 15, 15, 15 reps, total = 75 reps, 30s inter-set rest) of unilateral leg press exercise at 30% 1RM with continuous BFR at 80% limb occlusive pressure. ACLR-HL performed 3 × 10 reps (Total = 30 reps, 30s inter-set rest) of unilateral leg press exercise at 70% 1RM. Perceived exertion (RPE), muscle pain, knee pain and pre- and 5-min post-exercise blood pressure were measured.

RESULTS: RPE was higher in ACLR-BFR compared to NI-BFR (p < 0.05). Muscle pain was higher in NI-BFR and ACLR-BFR compared to ACLR-HL (p < 0.05). Knee pain was lower in ACLR-BFR compared to ACLR-HL (p < 0.01). There were no differences in blood pressure.

CONCLUSION: These responses to BFR exercise may not limit application and favourably influence knee pain throughout ACLR rehabilitation training programmes. These findings can help inform practitioners' decisions to utilise this tool.

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