London, England
Friday 12th August 2011

Following yesterday's blog discussing the incorporation of occlusion training into rehabilitation & recovery programmes, Raph (Brandon), the EIS Head of Strength & Conditioning, answers questions on the theory, practice & need for further research of occlusion training.

Raph, you have been experimenting with occlusion training over the last 2 months.  What benefits do you see from this sort of exercise?

The key benefits are fast gains in strength & muscle tone / mass with the regular use of occlusion training.  The other benefit is that the loading required during training is low compared to normal strength training, so it can be safe & effective very early in a rehab process.


Please can you explain the physiological theories behind why training in this way might be beneficial.

The key mechanisms behind the benefits are stimulation to the hormonal & biochemical systems involved in muscle protein synthesis.  Therefore, despite low loads, there are “big gains” results.  However, occlusion training does seem to work best when conducted in a high frequency manner (daily).  There is also a blood flow re-prefusion effect, which may also help the training process.


To what scenarios do you think this sort of training might be most suited?

Early stage rehabs for joint sprain & bone fractures.  This will kick start the athlete back to full function at a time when traditional strength training may not be suitable.


What are the limitations of occlusion training?

There are medical risk factors, mainly regarding circulatory & nervous system health that need to be considered.  Medical supervision or approval should be sought before using this technique with patients.  The other limitation is that the adaptation is biased towards the muscle & not the tendon, due to the low loads involved.


What would you try to achieve with the two protocols you demonstrated & how would you decide which to use when?

The twice daily, low load on off protocol would be suitable early in a rehabilitation programme to help reverse muscle atrophy.


The more aggressive, 3-4 sets to failure, protocol is for advanced athletes only, & can be used to supplement strength training or increase gains during rehabilitation.



Where do you see the research going with regards occlusion training?

Firstly, research is needed to determine the best protocols to use in rehab & training applications. Secondly, it may have possible benefits as a recovery modality, if used in the right way. 

Thanks for your time Raph...insightful as ever!  If you were interested in what Raph had to say, you can watch him present live at various locations around the UK for HE Seminars

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