Effect of blood flow restriction during low-intensity resistance training on bone markers and physical functions in postmenopausal women

J Exerc Sci Fit. 2021 Jan;19(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jesf.2020.09.001. Epub 2020 Sep 25.


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of 12-week low intensity resistance training (RT) with blood flow restriction on bone mineral density (BMD), bone turnover markers (BTM), physical functions, and blood lactate concentration in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Methods: 26 study participants (56 ± 1.8yrs, T-score: -2.5 ± 0.7) were randomly assigned into Moderate to High-Intensity RT (MHIRT, n = 7), BFR combined with Low-Intensity RT (LIBFR, n = 7), Low-Intensity RT (LIRT, n = 6), or Control group (CON, n = 6). Exercise group performed leg press, leg extension, biceps curl, and triceps extension 3 times a week for 12 weeks. Training intensity were set at 60% of 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) for MHIRT, and at 30% of 1-RM for LIBFR and LIRT, and reset every 4 weeks for increasing intensity.

Results: Lower, and upper limb 1-RM only increased in MHIRT (65%, p < 0.001), and LIBFR (40%, p < 0.05), while LIRT only showed increment on lower limb 1-RM (28%, p < 0.05). All exercise groups demonstrated significant increment on blood lactate concentration after training session (p < 0.001). However, LIBFR showed 2.7 folds higher increment than LIRT (p < 0.001). Although no changes were observed in MHIRT, LIBFR, and LIRT, CON showed significant decrease in BMD (p < 0.05). While, LIRT showed no responses on BTM, LIBFR significantly increased bone formation markers (P1NP) about 7.05 ng/ml (p < 0.05). Lastly, balance improvement was only found in MHIRT, and LIBFR (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: 12-week LIBFR can be implied as a safe, and effective method to improve muscle strength, P1NP, and balance similar to MHIRT in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Keywords: Blood flow restriction; Bone resorption; Menopause; Resistance training.