Hytro: Matt Konopinksi of R4P explains how rehab practitioners are using Hytro to get athletes back in the game quicker

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By Team Hytro

Whilst Hytro has been able to bring BFR to the performance realm for the first time, traditionally the science of BFR was first established in a rehabilitation setting. Such implementation is backed up by evidence showing how it allows athletes to minimise strength losses while injured and helps return them to their pre-injury levels as quickly as possible. Given this, we caught up with the Director of Physiotherapy and Performance at Rehab 4 Performance (R4P) Matt Konopinski, a lower limb specialist, to hear how he uses Hytro BFR at his practice.

R4P logo on gym equipment

“At R4P we take on athletes from numerous sources,” said Matt. “When they arrive with us, we assess the injury and ask the athlete what they want to achieve. Once we know that, we can start to look at including task-based criteria so they can move through their rehab.”

As the former Head of Rehabilitation at Liverpool FC, alongside extensive experience at Rangers FC and the FA, Matt has helped countless athletes back to their best over the years – often by utilising BFR. “BFR has been part of the fabric of rehabilitation for such a long time,” he said. “Eight years ago I went on a BFR-specific course to learn the finer details around the technique so I could administer it as well as possible to my athletes. I’d already been using BFR for around five years by that stage.”  

Matt Konopinksi, Director of Physiotherapy and Performance at Rehab 4 Performance (R4P)

While the desire to encourage constant learning for athletes is strong, it’s also a key aspect for practitioners. For Matt, the reasons for improving his knowledge were obvious: “The main reasons for using Blood Flow Restriction were to restrict atrophy after an operation – particularly in individuals who were load compromised – and to allow load-compromised individuals in the early stages of their rehab to improve hypertrophy.”  

Given BFR’s unique ability to provide a potent muscle stimulus without loading joints, it can be an ideal training tool for athletes suffering an injury. “When we review the scientific evidence behind technology and rehabilitation interventions, then BFR is up there in terms of a robust evidence-base relative to other options.”

Sometimes athletes need more than evidence before trying something new, however. If they’ve never come across BFR before, they may need reassurance. “Athlete buy-in is fundamental to successful rehab,” said Matt. “If you don’t engage the athlete then they won’t bring the level of intensity that’s needed in the rehab space or apply themselves appropriately. That makes life difficult and means the chances of returning them to their optimal level will be hindered. They always need to be engaged. When I use BFR with them, their reaction depends on whether or not they’ve used BFR before. For those new to the tool I keep it simple. I tell them that I’m going to occlude their blood flow, it might hurt, but the result is that it’ll either limit their muscle loss or help them to gain muscle size. That’s a buy-in straight away.”

Athlete being coached through rehabilitation whilst wearing Hytro BFR Recovery Shorts

“Those who are new to BFR tend to be surprised by how comfortable it is. The vast majority of them feel the benefit. Subjectively, they feel like the muscle has done something. Anecdotally we’re also getting reports of the joint feeling better after using BFR.”

Though Matt began his BFR work with traditional BFR cuffs, more recently he’s begun to use Hytro BFR wearables at his practice. “The unique selling point for the Hytro BFR Recovery Shorts is that they are the most versatile BFR product on the market,” he said. “That means it’s less of a faff to set up the athlete for BFR. They can use the shorts very easily. We can work between different flows in terms of the activities we’re doing, switching seamlessly between tasks. It’s not time-consuming and I can be confident that the pressures the athlete is looking to achieve can be implemented quickly, all in the knowledge that the evidence is there to back up the use of the shorts.”

With BFR’s use becoming increasingly mainstream, more and more coaches and athletes are looking to incorporate it as part of their day-to-day training – and not just for rehab purposes. Scientifically proven to enhance aerobic capacity, encourage hypertrophy, improve mobility, supercharge recovery, and prepare athletes for activity, it can prove an effective tool that caters to a variety of goals. For those looking to add it to their toolbox, Matt had some simple advice: “As a coach, try BFR yourself first so that you can not only explain its effect to athletes, but also empathise with them when they first use it. If you haven’t done that, you may be taken aback by the athlete’s reaction the first time they use BFR!”

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