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Blood Flow Restriction Considerations for Knee Pain

Are you dealing with knee pain?

You need to try out blood flow restriction training to supplement your rehab and recovery! 

Before we go into more details of blood flow restriction training, let’s get a quick breakdown of what exactly is blood flow restriction training.

What Is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

Blood flow restriction is a method of training that utilizes a tourniquet system to decrease arterial blood flow and venous outflow. In other words, it limits the blood going into the muscle (arterial blood flow) and prevents blood getting back to the heart (venous outflow). Limiting this blood will ultimately limit oxygen supply to the muscle. The reason we deplete the muscle from oxygen is to be able to get muscular and cellular adaptations without putting excessive external load.

If you want to learn more about blood flow restriction training, check out our recent blog

One of the big advantages of blood flow restriction training is that you can strengthen the muscle without putting excessive load on the joint. This is huge because with the majority of knee pain one tends to struggle to strengthen the knee without increasing pain or irritating the knee joint. 

We will go over several common knee injuries and how blood flow restriction training can help.

1. Meniscus Injuries

One of the most common injuries that we see are meniscus tears. Most meniscus tears do not require surgery unless there are mechanical symptoms, such as locking of the knee joint. In regards to rehab we like to start the athlete with blood flow restriction training because we can start activating the muscle and decreasing pain through its analgesic effect.

2. Cartilage Injuries/ Osteoarthritis

We believe in order to successfully rehab any kind of cartilage injuries or osteoarthritis, you need to include blood flow restriction training as part of the rehab because we are able to strengthen the muscle without increasing the load on the joint. This is particularly important with these types of injuries because if you are able to achieve the same strength and hypertrophy gains from squatting 30lbs as 100lbs that is a game changer.

Furthermore, for athletes dealing with these injuries, swelling and knee soreness often limits their progress from exercise or activity progression. Therefore, BFR allows these athletes to decrease the stress, but still getting the benefits of “loading” the muscle.

3. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

This is one of the most common sources of knee pain for athletes and non-athletes. However, this is a tricky source of pain to rehab because there are many things that may cause patellofemoral pain syndrome. To name a few examples, quadriceps weakness, poor glute and foot/ankle neuromuscular control, inadequate ankle or hip mobility, or poor movement mechanics. 

In this particular injury, blood flow restriction training will help the most with quadriceps weakness secondary to athletes not responding well to activity due to pain in the front of the knee. As a result, we use blood flow restriction training to allow you to strengthen the quad with less stress on the front of the knee.

4. Jumpers' Knee

Jumper knee is a common knee injury for basketball athletes. If you want to learn more about jumper’s knee check out this YouTube video and Blog.

To quickly summarize jumper’s knee, it is a tendon capacity issue where the tendon is not able to withstand the activities of the athletes.

Early on during the rehab process we like to to blood flow restriction training to increase strength before loading the tendon more. Furthermore, it has an analgesic, or pain relief, effect which allows you to use those benefits as a warm up prior to playing basketball


In conclusion, blood flow restriction training has great benefits for any kind of knee pain because the muscular adaptations that will occur while minimizing the load and stress on the joint, as well as, the analgesic effect. 

If you are struggling with your knee pain or have any questions feel free to send us an email at or schedule a free 10 minute discovery call with us at


Alvarez et al. Comparison of blood flow restriction training versus non-occulsive training in patients with anterior cruicate ligament reconstruction or knee osteoarthritis: a Systematic review

The Basketball Doctors - Gabriel Ignacio Physical Therapist

Dr. Gabriel Ignacio PT, DPT, OCS, TPI

The Basketball Doctors - Marco Lopez Physical Therapist

Dr. Marco Lopez PT, DPT, CSCS

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