The Effect of Increasing Blood Flow Restriction Pressure When the Contractions Are Already Occlusive

Vito V. Nucci, David H. Jarrett, Catherine M. Palmo, Brenna M. Razzano, Mehmet Uygur, Scott J. Dankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Context: Blood flow restricted exercise involves the use of external pressure to enhance fatigue and augment exercise adaptations. The mechanisms by which blood flow restricted exercise limits muscular endurance are not well understood. Objective: To determine how increasing blood flow restriction pressure impacts local muscular endurance, discomfort, and force steadiness when the contractions are already occlusive. Design: Within-participant, repeated-measures crossover design. Setting: University laboratory. Patients: A total of 22 individuals (13 males and 9 females). Intervention: Individuals performed a contraction at 30% of maximal isometric elbow flexion force for as long as possible. One arm completed the contraction with 100% of arterial occlusion pressure applied, while the other arm had 150% of arterial occlusion pressure applied. At the end of the protocol, individuals were asked to rate their perceived discomfort. Main Outcome Measures: Time to task failure, discomfort, and force steadiness. Results: Individuals had a longer time to task failure when performing the 100% arterial occlusion condition compared with the 150% arterial occlusion pressure condition (time to task failure = 82.4 vs 70.8 s; Bayes factors = 5.77). There were no differences in discomfort between the 100% and 150% conditions (median discomfort = 5.5 vs 6; Bayes factors = 0.375) nor were there differences in force steadiness (SD of force output 3.16 vs 3.31 N; Bayes factors = 0.282). Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that, even when contractions are already occlusive, increasing the restriction pressure reduces local muscle endurance but does not impact discomfort or force steadiness. This provides an indication that mechanisms other than the direct alteration of blood flow are contributing to the increased fatigue with added restrictive pressure. Future studies are needed to examine neural mechanisms that may explain this finding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sport Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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