Another day, another image of a gym bro with elastic bands wrapped around their arms saying how cool it is they’re using KAATSU.
I hate to disappoint, but elastic bands or repurposed cargo or luggage straps are not KAATSU. It might be BFR, but BFR is not KAATSU either.
Here’s a chart of a few basic differences between KAATSU and other BFR approaches.
|Risk of Occlusion|
|Bands Can Cause Pain|
|Automated Cycle mode|
|Flexible, Comfortable Bands|
|Can Use Up to 30 Min.|
But wait – there’s crossover! Both KAATSU and BFR offer constant pressure! Therefore, KAATSU and BFR are the same. Right? Not quite.
KAATSU Protocols are Different
In this case, the main, underlying difference between KAATSU and other forms of BFR is the KAATSU safety protocols for using Constant mode.
KAATSU users know you don’t go straight into Constant mode. You run through at least a few sets of Cycle mode first, to prepare the cardiovascular system for the additional stress. Once you’ve done that, you can use Constant mode for 10 minutes. After that, you use Cycle mode again for a couple of sets.
In any kind of athletic endeavour, you warm up. In this case, using KAATSU’s Cycle mode before Constant mode stretches your vasculature the same way it will be stretched in Constant mode. Just for not as long. It gets your veins and capillaries ready for what’s going to come next. BFR doesn’t do that, unless you wrap and unwrap your bands every 30 seconds for 10 minutes beforehand.
Cycle Mode: Safely Use KAATSU up to 30 Minutes
BFR protocols say to go no longer than 20 minutes as the risk of blood clots, damage to the nervous system, and adverse effects on bone density increases. On the other hand, you can use KAATSU in Cycle mode for up to 30 minutes. What’s the difference?
Cycle mode is only found on KAATSU devices. It is an automated cycle that inflates the bands for 30 seconds, deflates them for 5 seconds, then re-inflates them at a slightly higher pressure. This cycle continues through 8~16 steps of pressure (depends on which KAATSU equipment you use). Because your blood flow doesn’t stop using KAATSU, there’s almost no chance of getting a blood clot. The flexible bands move with you so you don’t have a risk of nerve damage. KAATSU has been shown to increase markers of bone growth and density, not decrease it.
So, dear gym bros: when you see someone using elastics or cargo straps bragging about how they’re using KAATSU, you can gently inform them of the differences between KAATSU and BFR. Yes, KAATSU is the original form of BFR, but the differences in KAATSU’s Air Band construction and basic KAATSU protocols for using Constant pressure make it very different from BFR as it’s practiced today.
Now you know 🙂
Disclaimer: KAATSU protocols have not been evaluated by Health Canada. KAATSU is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and its use should be evaluated by your own physician before use.