KAATSU Air Bands are applied on the upper arms or the upper legs. Some folks think that because of this, KAATSU is only good for training or rehabilitating the limbs. This is incorrect. Here’s why.
Proximal vs. Distal
Body parts closest to the center of the body are considered proximal while further away body parts are considered distal. So, for example, your hand is further along your arm from your elbow. The hand is distal to the elbow. The elbow is proximal to the hand.
KAATSU Air Bands are worn on the upper arm, so the bicep, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand are distal to the bands. The shoulder, trapezius, etc. are proximal to the bands (i.e. closer to the center of the body). How then can KAATSU affect a shoulder, for example?
KAATSU’s Systemic Response
When you work out with KAATSU you create an effect in the limbs that your body recognizes as a disturbance of homeostasis. Your body responds by secreting additional hormones and additional metabolites in order to help the body heal and repair. Here’s the thing: those hormones and metabolites are released into the bloodstream and they wind up circulating through your entire body. The parts of your body that need healing and repair take up those compounds. So, while you’re using KAATSU on your arms or your legs, your body’s healing system releases compounds that travel through your entire body through the blood.
Olympic ski-cross racer Todd Lodwick is a prime example of this. Shortly before the 2014 Winter Olympics he had a significant crash where he broke an arm and tore ligaments in his shoulder. Using KAATSU with his rehabilitation he was able to heal his arm and shoulder enough to be the flag bearer for his country and ultimately compete in his event, placing 6th. Despite the shoulder being proximal to the KAATSU Air Bands, the body’s systemic effects helped him heal in time for competition.
So, a sore back, hip, shoulder, or other body part proximal to the KAATSU Air Bands can still benefit from the effects of KAATSU. This also applies to body parts you are trying to make stronger. KAATSU’s good for the whole body, not just the arms and legs.