Break One Limb, KAATSU The Others

For who? Baby Boomers, retirees, student-athletes
For what? mobility, flexibility, recovery

KAATSU users often ask how KAATSU can be safely used as part of their rehabilitation of a broken limb, especially when the injured arm or leg must be keep immobilized as it heals.

Similar to what Olympic silver medalist Todd Lodwick accomplished in the 28 days prior to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games when he came back in an unprecedented time from a broken humerus and torn ligaments in his left arm, KAATSU users can perform KAATSU two or three per day if they primarily use the KAATSU Cycle mode on their other three healthy limbs. Surgeon Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, the then attending US Ski & Snowboard Association physician responsible for Lodwick’s recovery said, “His recovery was unheard of with the incorporation of KAATSU.”

The standard KAATSU 3-Point Exercises in the KAATSU Cycle mode can be used: Hand Clenches + Biceps Curls + Triceps Extensions on the arms plus Heel Raises + Leg Curls + Non-lock Partial Quarter Squats on the legs. KAATSU Walking or KAATSU Aqua Walking can be performed as one very effective alternative in the injury is in the arms. The KAATSU Cycles, ideally, should be performed in the mornings and then within one hour of bedtime.

The effects are best if the movement of the healthy limbs is slow and steady. Ideally, the muscles in movement should be contracted in both the positive and negative directions.

The reason why KAATSU on the healthy limbs is effective is because KAATSU has systemic effects all over the body, including in the injured limb – even if KAATSU is not done on that limb.

At the Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Center for Translational Musculoskeletal Research and the University of Indianapolis Department of Kinesiology, Dr. Alan Mikesky and his research team researched the crossover effects of KAATSU [see Modified KAATSU Training: Adaptations and Subject Perceptions here]. In his research, Professor Mikesky was looking to confirm the systemic effects of KAATSU.

The researchers applied KAATSU Air Bands on only one arm of subjects and tested the strength, girth, tomography scans along with RPE (Rated Perceived Exertion scale) of both arms of the subjects.

The research team correctly did KAATSU and measured both the Base SKU (which they called “Cuff Tightness Pressure in mm Hg”and Optimal SKU (which they called “Cuff Inflation Pressure in mm Hg”) levels.

It should be noted that the SKU levels were conservative for relatively young subjects. The subjects started at 10 Base SKU in Week 1 and increased to 30 Base SKU by Week 8; they started at 90 Base SKU in Week 1 and increased to 180 Base SKU by Week 8. Both the KAATSU arm and the non-KAATSU arm girth increased (measured in cm between Week 0 and Week 8):

Non-KAATSU Arm (cm) girth:
Week 0: 22.7 cm
Week 2: 24.3 cm
Week 4: 24.9 cm
Week 6: 25.7 cm
Week 8: 26.1 cm

KAATSU Arm (cm) girth:
Week 0: 23.0 cm
Week 2: 23.2 cm
Week 4: 24.5 cm
Week 6: 25.4 cm
Week 8: 26.1 cm

The research showed how doing KAATSU on one limb can have crossover (systemic) effects on the other limb – a very important goal for individuals with one injured limb who is trying to recover.

In the video above, this effect was practically demonstrated was with 2010 Olympic silver medalist Todd Lodwick who broke his left arm and torn his ligaments 28 days before the 2014 Winter Olympics. With KAATSU done on his non-injured limbs, he was able to compete admirably well in both the ski jumping and the Nordic combined events after only 5 weeks of KAATSU.

During his rehabilitation, the staff at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association noted that Lodwick was getting too muscular after a few weeks of KAATSU – despite his broken bone and torn ligaments and doing no weights or traditional strength training exercises. In response, his SKU levels was reduced and he stretched more and did low-pressure, post-workout KAATSU Cycles so his muscle hypertrophy was not accelerated (see above). Personally, Lodwick liked the effects and ultimately was able to compete.

In summary, doing KAATSU on healthy limbs can have direct crossover benefits to the recovery, strength and girth of an injured limb or core.

Another previous study conducted in Japan is entitled Cross-Transfer Effects of Resistance Training with Blood Flow Restriction (see here).

Silver medalist Todd Lodwick is shown above doing similar KAATSU training after his skiing accident and was able to rehabilitate and recover quickly enough to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.