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The benefits of blood flow restriction training for elite athletes, the military, the elderly and the general population

Doctoral College

About the Project

Blood flow restriction is a training method partially restricting arterial inflow and fully restricting venous outflow of working muscles by the application of tourniquet cuffs to the most proximal region of the upper/lower limbs. Although relatively widely used to improve physical performance and recovery from exercise, the understanding of the physiological mechanisms remains largely unknown. This project aims in partnership with KAATSU to elucidate the muscular, hormonal and other physiological mechanisms induced by blood flow restriction, with particular focus on its implications on pain reduction, improved vascular function, and altered perception in both athlete and patient populations with physical limitations and impairments.

Specifically, to investigate the immediate and chronic effects of blood flow restriction on the inflammatory responses to high volumes of exercise training evident in elite level athletes, as well as the chronic low grade inflammation present in older and chronically ill populations such as peripheral vascular disease patients. Both acute exercise studies and chronic training interventions will be performed to assess different muscular and physiological adaptations in response to KAATSU.

Concurrently, physiological indicators related to the prescription of safe KAATSU procedures will also be considered to ensure the highest safety possible and to safeguard the physical integrity of the athletes/patients while determining an effective occlusion dose. Once a safe and effective dose has been established and specific physiological mechanisms are better understood, subsequent studies will focus on patient populations with special focus on its analgesic potential and its effectiveness to reduce pain, serving as a possible pain-modulation tool in individuals with chronic/acute pain. This research supported by an experienced team is envisaged to provide excellent training opportunities and to generate a significant number of outcomes to be added to the body of research and specifically the physiological mechanisms behind KAATSU.

Funding Notes

Open to home or EU applicants as defined by the Fees Regulations. Funded by University of Brighton and KAATSU, for a start date in the academic year of 2020/21. It will have a stipend at the UKRI rate (£15,285 for 20/21) plus UK/EU Fees for three years (or equivalent period in part-time study).

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