Saturday, November 13, 2021
Why Chris Hemsworth Did Not Continue Using KAATSU - Basic KAATSU Protocols Were Not Followed
When experienced KAATSU Master Specialists first saw actor Chris Hemsworth do KAATSU Training on Instagram, they cringed (see here).
The flood of emails, texts, and messages from around the world that were sent to KAATSU Global headquarters were a clear and immediate indication that the Australian actor best known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was incorrectly doing KAATSU and was not following basic - and well established - KAATSU protocols.
Jackson Thomas of Insider recently wrote an article (Chris Hemsworth has stopped using blood-flow restriction to build his arm muscles, side effects can be 'quite painful') that describes Hemsworth's KAATSU experience.
As the experienced KAATSU Master Specialists know well, KAATSU is not meant to be painful; KAATSU is meant to be gentle on the body. "A KAATSU workout can certainly be intense for some athletes and actors who wish to quickly transform their bodies, but it is never meant to be painful," explains Steven Munatones who has been doing KAATSU since 2001. "Pain should have been a clear signal to Chris that his use of KAATSU was wrong, especially for a first-time user.
Even his premise that KAATSU restricts blood flow is wrong. There is certainly a moderation (slowing down) of venous flow from the limbs back to the torso, but there is no occlusion - or at least, there is not meant to be restriction or occlusion when people properly, safely and optimally do KAATSU. This concept of restriction and occlusion is a very unfortunate result of flat-out wrong information that is often posted online and marketed by young trainers and social media savvy BFR promoters on Instagram and YouTube."
Hemsworth's trainer Ross Edgley described KAATSU as "...one of the most uncomfortable training methods I’ve experienced but part of the puzzle in growing Thor’s arms to look like the legs of a racehorse. Don’t try this at home unless you have yourself a professional pain guru."
"Again, pain is NOT part of the KAATSU journey. There is no need for pain gurus. Pain should have been an immediate signal to stop," said Munatones. "Chris also did not do Progressive KAATSU Cycle sets; this is THE key essence of the entire KAATSU principle. In Chris' Instagram post, you can see when the KAATSU Air Bands were placed on his upper arms, he immediately opened and closed his hands. He got right into lifting heavy weights - another wrong step - and his frowning facial expressions were indicative of his discomfort. These indicate that occlusion was setting in - as opposed to engorgement which is what KAATSU users want. KAATSU users want the blood IN the limbs; not OUT of the limbs.
We often talk about the KAATSU Smile; the usual outcome of people doing KAATSU. In contrast, Chris's pain showed on his face. He was uncomfortable and not happy. There is a clear difference between the discomfort due to intensity of KAATSU movements and the lactate build-up and the pain of misuse. Damage to soft tissue and our joints and ligaments is far different than the physiological discomfort from metabolic waste build-up.
KAATSU is not a tourniquet or occlusion bands. KAATSU Air Bands were never designed or manufactured to cut off or restrict any blood flow. Ever. Quite the opposite, in fact. KAATSU leads to greater blood circulation and a hormonal response precisely because the vascular tissue becomes more elastic with gradual, gentle KAATSU Cycle sets."
But, for too many years, trainers and coaches have pushed occlusion and pain are part of BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) training. They augment their campaign with images of young, fit, cut models. While occlusion and pain may be a part of BFR because of their tourniquets, cuffs and occlusion bands, these outcomes are not part of proper, safe and optimal KAATSU.
"That is why KAATSU is used by so many people over the age of 50 - and by the U.S. military and professional athletes," says Munatones. "Their goals are not only quite specific - to be able to train, recover and rehabilitate anywhere anytime, but also because KAATSU is gentle and gradual, a daily KAATSU regimen is easily sustainable and convenient to use for people of all ages." When occlusion and pain are not part of the equation, and KAATSU pressure is gently, temporarily, and gradually applied - as has always been the KAATSU Cycle protocol, then the body acts and responds differently than what Hemsworth experienced. The seminal long-term research that was performed over a 10-year period between 2004 and 2014 at the University of Tokyo Hospital under the guidance of cardiologists proved these outcomes."
In the image above, you can see the upper arm of a competitive collegiate athlete (in his 20's) with the KAATSU Air Bands on a constant pressure of 300 SKU. This amount of pressure is not recommended for a vast majority of people, but even at these high and sustained pressures, the KAATSU Air Bands do not occlude any arterial blood flow - and only very slightly modify the venous blood flow back to the torso.*
This is how KAATSU is properly, safely and optimally used.
There are two major players in the market originally created by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in Tokyo: the devices designed and manufactured by KAATSU Global, Inc. (e.g., KAATSU Nano, KAATSU Master 2.0, KAATSU Air Bands, KAATSU B1, KAATSU C3, KAATSU M3) and the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction.
There is much confusion and misunderstandings in the marketplace about these two products and approaches.
The Delfi product identifies total occlusion pressure and then applies a specific percentage of that pressure during its applications. In contrast, the KAATSU products are not designed to even remotely approach occlusion pressure or do Blood Flow Restriction.
This fact was identified by Professor Alyssa Weatherholt of the University of Southern Indiana, Professor William VanWye of Western Kentucky University, and Johnny Owens of Owens Recovery Science (the exclusive distributor of the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction equipment) who recently presented a study called Pressure Needed to Achieve Complete Arterial Occlusion: A Comparison of Two Devices Used for Blood Flow Restriction Training [see here].
The researchers concluded a wider cuff of the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction is able to restrict arterial blood flow at significantly lower pressures compared to the narrow cuff [KAATSU Air Bands] using the KAATSU Master. The key finding of this study is as follows:
“We were unable to achieve complete arterial occlusion in any participant with the KAATSU cuff.”
The KAATSU equipment was designed and is specifically manufactured to avoid arterial occlusion in the limbs. This fact is precisely why KAATSU was originally defined by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, the KAATSU inventor, and leading Japanese cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital as a Blood Flow Moderation (BFM) device.
While the vernacular nuance between BFM and BFR may be overlooked by many (venous flow modification versus arterial flow restriction), the modification of venous flow is critical to understanding the safety and goal of KAATSU as certified KAATSU Specialists understand.
"There is no part of the KAATSU protocols that includes as part of its protocols - or tries to achieve - arterial occlusion. This is why KAATSU is definitely not occlusion training, tourniquet training, O-training, or any kind of blood flow restriction modality," explains Steven Munatones. "This is why KAATSU equipment does not use cuffs or bands that are specifically designed to occlude or manufactured to restrict arterial flow. KAATSU Air Bands are not tourniquets or blood pressure cuffs. Rather, the stretchable bands are designed with flexible, elastic air bladders that inflate inwards towards the limb at very moderate pressures to minimally modify venous flow.
This pressure is gentle on the body and uniform because the limb is evenly and safely compressed by a bed of air. This principle and practical engineered solution leads to blood pooling in the limb - not arterial occlusion. This fact was independently determined by researchers and the leading Delfi proponent of BFR.
Furthermore, the patented KAATSU Cycle allows normal arterial and venous flow every 20 seconds which means it is safe, effective and gentle for people of all ages (including up to 104 years - see here).
1. The purpose of KAATSU equipment and its protocols is a reduction in venous flow via blood flow moderation, a term first coined in the 1990s by Dr. Sato and Doctors Nakajima and Morita, cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital.
2. The pneumatically controlled KAATSU Air Bands is designed to achieve a reduction in venous flow is a very different approach from BFR and its widely-promoted use of blood pressure cuffs that are specifically designed to achieve limb occlusion.
3. When the KAATSU equipment is used, its users agree to follow the specific protocols as defined by its inventor, Dr. Sato. Specifically, KAATSU protocols and equipment are designed not to occlude.
4. The stretchable, pneumatically controlled KAATSU Air Bands are not (blood pressure) cuffs. A cuff is a term that refers to devices specifically engineered for limb occlusion.
5. KAATSU Specialists understand the importance of users to know both their Base SKU pressure and their Optimal SKU pressure while using in the KAATSU Cycle and KAATSU Training modes. To refer to KAATSU pressure without reference to both Base SKU and Optimal SKU pressures is misleading.
There is another paper written by Jeremy P. Loenneke, Christopher Fahs, Lindy Rossow, Robert Thiebaud, Kevin T. Mattocks, Takashi Abe, and Michael G. Bemben (Blood flow restriction pressure recommendations: a tale of two cuffs) that addresses this subject from another perspective.
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