KAATSU At Home – A Talk With Chris Morgan

For who? Swimmers, triathletes, student-athletes, competitive athletes
For what? Functional movement, strength, flexibility, mobility, KAATSU At Home, KAATSU Aqua

Olympic, collegiate, open water and age group swimming coach Chris Morgan has used KAATSU the original BFR since 2014 and is one of the world’s most experienced KAATSU Master Specialists.

Not only does Morgan use KAATSU for the training and recovery of his competitive athletes, but he also utilizes KAATSU for rehabilitation of adult swimmers, fitness swimmers, and his own broken ribs and cracked heel.

Morgan, who has coached at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as Stanford University and Harvard University, is the featured guest on the KAATSU At Home Interview Series on Tuesday, April 7th at 9 am California time / 12 noon New York time / 5 pm GMT. His physiological knowledge is deep due to his personal use, his use with club and collegiate swimmers and water polo players, and his Masters in Sports Science & Human Movement from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.


Broken Ribs
Morgan has exclusively used KAATSU to rehabilitate from two broken ribs and a cracked heel bone.

“I ran a Tough Mudder and broke two ribs when I dove in some shallow water,”

recalled Morgan.

I was coaching at Harvard at the time and went to go get an x-ray. Then I repeatedly did lots of KAATSU Cycles on the first-generation KAATSU Nano unit with Mr. Shimizu who was visiting from Tokyo. I had broken ribs before so I knew what it felt like and how long it would take to recover from the injury.

But after 3 days, I felt no pain. It was strange in a way – but great. Then after 7 days, I went back to get a follow-up x-ray and the technician told me that he saw an old rib break that had healed itself. The technician didn’t know that I had just broken two ribs 7 days before. Mr. Shimizu had told me of the systemic effects of KAATSU, but this was my first ‘ah-ha’ moment with KAATSU.”

Cracked Heel
Last year, Morgan fractured his right calcaneus bone (heel) while falling on a concrete step.

In the emergency room, the doctor said to me, ‘Oh that must be so painful. You cracked 75% of heel.’ He was right. But I knew that I had to start rehabbing with KAATSU as soon as I got home,” he recalled. “I did the same rehab doing KAATSU when I cracked my ribs during a mud run. The doctors and x-ray technicians at Harvard where I was coaching at the time could not believe how fast my ribs healed. Every since that time, I have been a huge KAATSU believer.”

Morgan was given a boot, crunches and pain medications and told not to walk or apply pressure on the healing bone until he cleared him in some months.

It was painful and there is no way to walk on it, but I could sit up and do KAATSU on my arms and legs.”

Morgan’s rehabilitation includes two separate KAATSU sessions per day: a morning session and an evening session where he does several KAATSU Cycles on both his arms and legs.

Morgan explained his belief in KAATSU,

Dr. Sato [the KAATSU inventor] taught me that the more strongly muscle is exercised, the stronger the bones become. In other words, when there is less mechanical stress on our bones when you are bedridden or unable to move a body part that is in a cast or boot, the calcium that is stored in the bones is dissolved into your bloodstream, thus reducing bone strength.

We know through research that KAATSU changes – improves – levels of bone metabolic markers like BAP (bone alkali phosphatase). This research tells us that KAATSU elicits an acute response to suppress bone resorption and elicits a chronic effect in terms of encouraging bone formation – which was one reason why I believe my ribs healed so quickly and I expect my cracked heel will heal more quickly than my doctor expects.

The doctor told me to be off my injured foot for 6 weeks. I was walking within days and didn’t have use for the crutch in 11 days due to KAATSU.”

Podiatrist Dr. Lyle Nalli explains,

The calcaneus is the most vascular bone in the foot and can crack easily, but with its thin cortex and sparse inner bone pattern, can heal the fastest off all the foot bones. KAATSU, as it regulates blood flow, etc., speeds up the bone’s healing rate.”

Morgan has helped his adult athletes, some in their late 70’s, rehabilitate from all sorts of orthopedic injuries.


Morgan uses KAATSU with his athletes when they travel to swim meets, including right after travel and between preliminary and final heats.

Athletic Performance

Morgan follows the Three P’s of KAATSU that are described by former NCAA athlete and coach Chris Dahowski:

  • Physical
  • Physiological
  • Psychological

He describes the three specific areas of advantages and benefits of KAATSU for competitive athletes:

This is defined when the athletes are wearing their KAATSU Air Bands – either on their arms or legs – and are in either the KAATSU Training or KAATSU Cycle mode.

The lactate build-up that inevitably comes with movement while the KAATSU Air Bands are on literally kickstarts the natural biochemical process in the body. When this movement becomes technically flawless with the KAATSU Air Bands on, this is the optimal way to start preparing the athlete for performance gains.

After the athlete trains with technically flawless technique and builds that perfect movement into their muscle memory, even if they are not going all-out or at highly intense levels, this is the first part of our KAATSU protocol.

Then, we ask the athletes to take off their KAATSU Air Bands and then replicate their technically flawless technique while working intensely and going all-out.

This can be done while improving free throws with a basketball player, swinging a golf club or baseball bat, or trying to improve times for an Olympic runner, swimmer or rower.

The raw use of the KAATSU Air Bands during technically flawless athletic movements, even without intensity of all-out exercise is the catalyst for improvement in speed, stamina, or strength. KAATSU introduces physiological changes in the body, a natural adaptation, while the mind-body connection is being refined.

This is defined when the athletes are wearing their KAATSU Air Bands – either on their arms or legs – and are in either the KAATSU Training mode and going close to or at race pain or at their highest level of intensity and focus.

When the athletes start to feel the discomfort of their lactate levels increasing as they start to train faster and more intensely, profound changes in their neuromuscular system, vascular system and endocrinology system have already begun. Increases in endothelial cells and IGF-1, and significant release of nitric oxide and human growth hormone, occur naturally and enable the athlete to improve physiologically.

This is especially true if the athlete does KAATSU Cycles before and after each workout, and KAATSU Training within each workout.

Coaches understand that their athletes’ mindset is absolutely critical for self-confidence and positivity. If the athlete’s mind is in the right place, then all their training and preparation will lead to improvement and achievement of their goals.

Instead of “race pace”, Morgan tells his athletes that they must become comfortable with “race pain”. At every aerobically-based competition – whether it is swimming, running, rowing, or cycling – there comes a point where fatigue and discomfort come into play. The athletes feel that discomfort – or as they describe it as pain – and start to slow down and adjust their pace…downwards.

But with daily use of KAATSU Air Bands, they can become much more familiar with that race pain. With familiarity comes acclimatization and they learn how to deal with it psychologically.

Morgan explained KAATSU Aqua in an interview with Brent Rutemiller of Swimming World Magazine at the 2017 American Swimming Coaches Association World Clinic in Washington D.C. [see above]

Morgan was the guest on KAATSU At Home – A Zoom Talk With Chris Morgan on April 7th.

Morgan is the world’s foremost KAATSU Aqua Specialist with experience in water polo, competitive swimming, fitness swimming, aqua therapy, masters swimming, open water swimming, and fin swimming, and Olympic swimming. Various KAATSU Aqua topics are covered here: