It’s hard to imagine an athlete with a more impressive physical presence than Dwight Howard. Fans watch in awe as his lean 6’10” 265 pound massive physique gracefully prances around the hardwood and dominates the court. However, as is the case with all veteran professional athletes striving for a successful career, longevity is key. Considering Howard has been playing in NBA since 2004 (first round draft pick!), it comes as no surprise that the optimization of health and recovery are of utmost importance.
While strength and hypertrophy training are crucial for improving performance and overall resiliency, heavy lifting could theoretically push the limits of recovery capacity when added to the constant explosive and high impact movements that basketball requires. If only there existed a way for an athlete to lift lighter loads while still achieving gains in strength and hypertrophy…
BFR training, the video describes, uses a specialized tourniquet wrapped around the arms or the legs. The cuff is inflated to reduce about 80% of the blood flow to the limbs and all of the blood flowing out. This reduces oxygen to the limb, which allows the athlete to achieve strength gains similar to using heavier loads. Johnny Owens is also featured in the video and explains that BFR training was originally used on wounded soldiers, but it eventually made it’s way into things like ACL rehab.
According to the video, Howard suffers from chronic knee pain, which makes jumping, running, and cutting almost unbearable. The team doctor, Dr. Walt Lowe, estimates that basketball players run up to 5 miles per game! Add in the constant jumping, running, and cutting and it’s easy to understand the high demand of the surrounding joints and soft tissues. With BFR training, Howard explains, “I’m getting the same workout in, but the load is not as heavy on my knees, which is especially important as you get up in age.” BFR training, Howard says, has helped him miss less games due to injury and will help him stay healthy long after his basketball career is over.
Is this type of publicity good or bad for blood flow restriction training? Does mainstream coverage create inflated hype when fed to a culture infected with and craving “the next best thing” or the “secret training method used by Hollywood stars?” Much like K-Tape and cupping, my fear is that mainstream media coverage of BFR training will cause people to focus on methods rather foundational principles of exercise and muscular adaptation such as adherence, progressive overload, sleep, nutrition, hydration, stress management, etc.
That being said, I’m actually quite optimistic. I think this type of publicity is good. It will no doubt help introduce people to BFR training, which will spark an interest. In 2021, once an interest is sparked, the searching starts…Google, social media, Facebook groups, forums…you name it! Why is that a good thing? BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE BFR PROS COME IN! With the support of our growing community and devotion to consistently producing authentic evidence-based content, WE CAN BE THAT LANDING PLACE! Imagine a young trainee hearing about
Dwight Howard’s successful use of BFR training, then after a quick search, stumbling on our Facebook group , Instagram page, or BFR course! What an impactful time in a person’s lifting journey to be exposed to quality resources like that!
We can make a difference and we can be leaders in our field, but we need your help! Spread the word! We’re here and won’t stop until our job is done. Who’s with us?
****Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story. The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.
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