Blood Flow Restriction Exercise: Effects of Sex, Cuff Width, and Cuff Pressure on Perceived Lower Body Discomfort

Robert W. Spitz, Raksha N. Chatakondi, Zachary W. Bell, Vickie Wong, Ricardo B. Viana, Scott J. Dankel, Takashi Abe, Yujiro Yamada, Jeremy P. Loenneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Narrow cuffs cause less discomfort than wide cuffs immediately following elbow flexion exercise in combination with blood flow restriction, possibly due to a balling up effect of the bicep underneath the cuff. In this study, we sought to examine the impact of cuff width, sex, and pressure on perceived discomfort in the quadriceps, following knee extensions. One hundred participants completed three separate experiments. In Experiment 1, we compared participants’ discomfort at rest after using a 5 and a 12 cm cuff. In Experiment 2, we compared the discomfort from these two cuffs after four sets of exercise. In Experiment 3, we used the same exercise protocol as in Experiment 2, but we compared the discomfort between a 12 cm cuff inflated to an inappropriate pressure and a 12 cm cuff inflated to the recommended pressure. We found no sex differences in Experiments 1 and 3. In Experiment 1, the narrow cuff had higher discomfort (16 vs 12 AU). In Experiment 2, men reported higher discomfort than women, with no discomfort differences related to cuff width, though narrow cuffs were most preferred. In Experiment 3, cuffs inflated to a pressure intended for narrow cuffs were associated with higher discomfort, and participants preferred to use it less. In summary, we found no strong evidence for discomfort differences due to cuff width. There was some indication that participants preferred narrow cuffs with pressures inflated to the recommended relative pressure. Muscle shape may influence how cuff width affects discomfort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-374
Number of pages22
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems


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