If KAATSU is “The Original BFR”, then how is it not blood flow restriction training? The difference is in the method KAATSU uses to create physiological responses in the body compared to most modern BFR companies. Let’s dig in.
Decades of clinical testing, research, and product development by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato is the foundation why KAATSU is different from blood flow restriction companies that have sprung up in the past few years.
The critical difference between KAATSU and other BFR equipment is rooted in human physiology. Most BFR companies base their blood flow restriction therapy on a percentage of Limb Occlusion Pressure (LOP). In other words, most BFR training methods start by occluding the limb, then the pressure is decreased to reach their optimal pressure, mostly using wide and rigid cuffs.
In contrast, KAATSU uses each individual’s own homeostasis as the starting point of compression. Mild amounts of pressure is then applied using narrow pneumatic, flexible, comfortable air bands. This pressure is safely applied for a limited amount of time (30 seconds). Pressure is then automatically and incrementally increased to slowly engorge the vascular tissue of the limb with blood.
Dr. Sato found the body reacts well to a gradual, incremental, repeated increase and subsequent release of pressure. This results in the optimal engorgement of blood in the limbs, especially when there is casual movement in the limbs. The body reacts less well (but still reacts) when it is subjected to pressures that fully occlude before being backed off – as is the approach with most blood flow restriction training methods.
You can see this in the skin of a person who uses KAATSU on one limb and BFR equipment on the other. The KAATSU limb is always darker in colour (a darker shade of pink, red, or even purple) indicating a greater engorgement of blood in the capillaries. The engorgement is enhanced by the automatically repeated inflation and deflation of the KAATSU Air Bands, especially with incremental increases in the inflation pressure.
That is the essence of KAATSU. It’s why the process is patented, and it’s why it’s fundamentally different from modern blood flow restriction training.
I hope this answers the question of whether KAATSU the same as blood flow restriction. If you would like more clarification, please read through the other FAQs about KAATSU, or leave a question in the comment box below.