Flux Health Forum

PEMF and BFR; A Marriage Made in Heaven?

Has anyone experimented with using PEMF with Blood Flow Restriction training (BFR)? Intuitively it seems to me like BFR and PEMF potentially have an amazing synergy. BFR causes signaling molecules to flood the body on a systemic level. The muscles that are being worked distal to the blood flow restriction get the maximum benefit, but the gains don’t stop there. Brain, bones, cardio vascular system, ligaments and muscles throughout the body are signaled to build and repair. With these signaling molecules coursing through the body, what better time to place the PEMF coils over an area of concern to tell the body “do it here”?

There is a lot of information on BFR online, some of it misinformed. The best source I’ve found to get a lot of the information in one place is this 1 houre 15 minute podcast here:

Another is Jim Stray-Gundersen:


1 Like

I haven’t watched the whole video, but did they mention Vasper and/or are you familiar with it? Amazing workout in 20 minutes using cooling and constriction, which sounds similar.

BRF is counter intuitive. Why would you want to reduce blood flow to a working muscle and build up lactic acid? It turns out the reason is that that is what signals the body to build up to do better next time. The compression part of Vasper is like BFR, the cooling part is to counter the counter intuitive nature of BFR. I don’t doubt that Vasper works, but am skeptical that it would be worth all the extra complication and expense (to me). Maybe their contribution is to have found a way to extend your exercise time long enough to get a “complete” workout in one session without feeling exhausted. With BFR you would want to break it into two sessions; one to build muscle and the other to build cardio vascular capacity. Total time spent would, I believe, be similar.

@JonN - when would you use ICES - after the BFR training when releasing the pressure from the cuffs/bands?

I guess there could potentially be a benefit from doing PEMF after an exercise unit with already increased circulation (with and without BFR and with more growth factors after BFR). I use BFR, but have never thought of optimising the timing of PEMF sessions and BFR sessions.

What are your thoughts regarding timing and also intensities of the PEMF session coupled with BFR. There might be a point of too much stimulation? I would probably not use higher ICES intensities after a BFR training.


Actually, I was hoping to get ideas from better informed members of this group. My guess is that any synergy between the two would be proportional to the effects of BFR during and after exercise. As I understand it, PEMF is mimicking the electrical flow or magnetic field around cells during mild exercise. It seems logical that that would pair well with the biochemical “stuff” that results from exercise.


With a hip injury I used a lot of BFR. I was also using PEMF from the M1 model occasionally at the same time. I had good results but I have have no reason to think there was any sort of synergy going on.

interesting… this sounds like the same type of process or mechanism of action as ewot (exercise with oxygen therapy) with o2 deprivation. liveo2.com began working with o2 deprivation to enhance ewot and that boosted benefits etc.

interesting to deprive the area of blood in a similar way… admittedly, i still have to watch the video but sounds a bit extreme haha. this ALSO reminds me of interval training…:thinking: i wonder if a wide dynamic in pemf might give similar benefits in following such pattern as other therapies mentioned above.

@Bob i know you have set up the a9 to cycle there a range of frequencies. have you ever looked into trying a similar approach with power and or frequency on a similar “extreme dynamic” possibly yield better results?

I also use BFR (KAATSU) and I think it is helpful.

But keep in mind, strategies such as BFR are forceful approaches. That means you are forcing something to happen or exerting an environmental stress with the hope that it elicits a beneficial stress-response.

My view is that PEMF is permissive, not forceful. Therefore, once it is applied and permits a normal physiological process to proceed, further dosage increases not will elicit a corresponding increase the response. I base this on many observations and a dose-response study using ICES-PEMF that I sponsored at a third party, GLP-certified laboratory. Above a certain dose, which corresponds to the maximum settings on the A9, M1, C5, B5, no further benefit was seen.

1 Like

But keep in mind, strategies such as BFR are forceful approaches. That means you are forcing something to happen or exerting an environmental stress with the hope that it elicits a beneficial stress-response.
My view is that PEMF is permissive , not forceful. Therefore, once it is applied and permits a normal physiological process to proceed


This concept of permissive vs. forceful adds a new layer to my limited understanding of how this stuff works. I’m trying to understand how these concepts inter relate, depend and layer upon each other. Also, how do alternate states take precedence? If I want to coax the body into doing something that would normally require being in a para sympathetic state while actually in a sympathetic state, will my coaxing be ignored? The same applies to so many other situations such as anabolic vs. catabolic, pro inflammatory vs. anti inflammatory, etc. To what extent are such considerations important and to what extent can they be ignored? For example, the body prioritizes protein synthesis toward building muscle or to building scar tissue. Myostatin and mTOR turn on or off one or the other. If I do something (not necessarily PEMF) intending to coax the building to build muscle tissue while the body is in a scar tissue building mode, what will be the result? I’m guessing that the answer is “It depends”. Can you suggest any short cuts or lines of inquiry to explore such dependencies or is this irrelevant?

Hi John.
That is an interesting idea to combine both at the same time. I use BFR and it does feel like a more challenging workout and seems like I do have a bit more tone after a few months. I chose to try this as a woman in my 60’s. I hoped it might be good for bone density and fitness. I also use the micro-pulse daily on my sore knee. I had hoped using both might improve my osteo knee pain while it hasn’t created any miracles in that sense I think pain would be worse without it. The BFR reduces knee pain a little during the actual workout and allows me a more intense workout without needing to up the weight adding to joint strain too much. Thanks for the links I’m still learning about BFR and it’s benefits so it will be good to hear any future progress on your idea that you have to report on.

Interesting that quite a few of you are also using BFR! I guess we are all biohackers here to a degree :wink: .

My understanding is that the mitochondria are A or maybe THE central key to healing and well-being. As with everything it’s about finding the right dose to support weak cells by raising the voltage across the cell membrane (healing is voltage…) and to stimulate the mitochondria in a zone of eustress and to avoid distress (overstimulus). As with substances, the golden rule is that “the dose makes the poison” (Paracelsus).

PEMF, physical exercise, hot/cold exposure, breathing exercises, BFR, LLLT, … - they all are different forms to stimulate mitochondria that lead to improved microcirculation, nitric oxide production and improved oxygenation. Mitochondria need stimulation! It is very personal what level an individual would need to have the right amount of stimulation and where overstimulation starts.
The same I guess holds true for a combination of modalities like ICES, BFR, sauna, exercise, etc. For some, the combination might bring them to a sweet spot, while for others the same exposure might not be enough or already too much stimulation. In addition, different organs or regions of the body might need different stimulation und support levels, depending on their “health status”.

What is also common is that the same stimulus for an extended period of time (long session or the same stimulus every day/… over some period) can lead to a habituation effect.

For me, it makes sense to cycle stimuli incl. ICES protocols and other forms of stimuli frequently, so that the mitochondria have to keep adapting to the “training” stimulus and keep them flexible.
I therefore change my ICES, BFR and other exercise protocols on a rotational basis.

Does this make sense to you?

Well, I would begin by saying that this philosophical approach has suffered woefully inadequate scientific study, to say the least. Scientifically speaking, it has been largely (a) unexplored, and (b) marginalized. In case any of you did not get the memo: mainstream medicine uses the forceful approach all of the time (allopathic medicine), so much so that they do not seem to be aware that more nuanced approaches are also available. One such example is “nutrition”. It is widely known that the average middle school student who has a health class will learn more about human nutrition that a medical student in a typical MD program.
But still, it is a difficult concept for most people, and many believe “if some is good, more is BETTER.” Thus, the last few thousand times I have been asked to make “really powerful, whole body PEMF…”
This is a really complex issue to untangle when you get right down to it. I have spent the last 22 years studying the right kind of PEMF to permit the body to do what it naturally does. I still cant explain the mechanisms fully, but I can describe the effective PEMF approach (and have done so many times) with a few equations.
Bottom line: it has been a lifetime of work to get one answer to one question, and I still do not understand the mechanisms fully.
So, I do not feel as if I am qualified to point the way for people to understand the Grand Scheme of “permissive” versus “forceful” approaches, and how to balance/optimize these.
But I can say with good confidence that you need to start by understanding one basic truth:
Too much is too much, either forceful or permissive.
If anyone advises you that more is always better, I think you may safely dismiss them as a dangerous idiot.
From there, I think you need to start building your knowledge and experience. It is a lifetime of work. And keep in mind: the response of your body will change as you get older. Things that came naturally when you were 22 definitely do not come so easily when you are 55, or 80…
I think this is the basis for ICES-PEMF as a “permissive” approach. The way people respond as a function of age strongly suggests to me that they are missing something that is replaced by ICES-PEMF stimulation. This seems to be more and more true as people age.
I do not have any generic guidelines as relates to optimizing permissive versus forceful approaches, other than that each needs to be tried thoughtfully. And in my experience, direct experience and experiment are far more valuable than starting from theory. Basically, you need to become aware of your responses, and adjust accordingly.
Also note that the two are very easy to confuse: when a nuanced treatment “permits” a normal tissue regenerative response, it can certainly feel like it was a miraculous, forceful change.
But after a few decades of experience with PEMF, I would say it is more like nutrition than stimulation; more permissive than forceful.

1 Like

As always, it depends on your siuation and needs but yes BFR bands can be effective in many cases of injury recovery which is a big portion of PEMF users.

I have recently began experimenting with BFR bands to aid in repairing a broken collarbone. Supposedly, BFR bands lead to a significant increase in HGH which is really useful for healing injuries. The good thing about HGH is that it is systemic as well so even if you use the bands only on your arms, other parts of the body should get access to this HGH boost as well.

BFR bands have other benefits and can be useful for other situations as well but just sharing what I know best at this point.