The authors of this study point out that nearly 1 million Americans get their knees replaced every year, and this number is going to jump to 3.5 million knee replacements annually by 2030. The authors state “the morbidity and mortality due to disuse associated with this is profound.” The authors took 5 severe osteoarthritis patients who were about to get their knees replaced and had them perform blood flow restriction training 3 times a week for 4 weeks and followed each workout by ingesting 25 g of a protein supplement. At the start and the end of this study, subjects had MRI scans to measure muscle volume in both limbs and had a of wide range of strength tests performed. After just 4 weeks, compared to baseline measurements, the blood flow resistance training limb had a 9% increase in muscle volume and a 19% in muscle strength. At the end of the study, the authors state “blood flow restriction training with essential amino acid oral supplementation appears to be safe, feasible, and efficacious in the prehabilitation prior to total knee arthroplasty.” A future large randomized clinical trial will assess this treatment modality. Blood flow restriction training and protein supplementation is incredibly easy, and it allows people with knee arthritis to exercise while using light resistance. Prior research shows that even mild blood flow restriction significantly increases growth hormone, and it is an underutilized clinical tool that has widespread applications, especially when exercising people with arthritis. See the article on Triple Stick Straps on the human locomotion site for a full discussion of blood flow restriction training.
Kuehl K, Elliot D, Dreyer H. Effects of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Training And Protein Supplementation On Muscle Strength and Volume. Med Sci in Sports Exerc. 2022 Sep 1;54(9S):315.
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