The Science of KAATSU

Improve Blood Circulation and Hormonal Production

KAATSU Air Bands apply moderate compression in short durations on the upper arms and upper legs. The pneumatic bands are controlled by the KAATSU units to serve the opposite function of blood pressure cuffs or tourniquets (ie. KAATSU temporarily keeps an incremental amount of blood in the limbs - not out of the limbs with a tourniquet).

This temporary and rhythmic compression leads to the safe engorgement of the limbs with blood that subsequently causes a cascade of natural and beneficial physiological reactions in the body as described in the 3 phases below:
  1. Catalyst for Blood Circulation Improvement
  2. Nitric Oxide Production
  3. Human Growth Hormone Production

Catalyst for Blood Circulation Improvement

KAATSU Air Bands safely and gently modifies venous flow which is the blood circulation from your limbs to your torso. The temporary and additional blood circulation in your limbs leads to subtle and profound changes in your homeostasis. Your vascular tissue increases its elasticity incrementally, leading to a secretion of a number of hormones and growth factors.

Nitric Oxide Production

KAATSU is the catalyst for production of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), NO (nitric oxide), IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) as well as ceramides, plasmalogens, beta endorphins, and testosterone. Nitric oxide allows blood vessels to constrict and relax, and regulate the inflammatory cells in the blood vessel walls.

Human Growth Hormone Production

With movement and exercise, lactate builds in the muscle, causing the pituitary gland to secrete growth hormone. Growth hormone is secreted in large amounts - simulating vigorous exercise - activating your body's metabolism.

KAATSU Band Design

KAATSU Air Bands are specifically designed and manufactured to not act as a blood pressure cuff or tourniquet - a unique and proprietary design in the BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) market.

The KAATSU Air Bands are elastic, stretchable, and monitored by the KAATSU algorithms that were tested and proven safe by Dr. Sato and cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital among over 7,000 cardiac rehab patients during a 10-year study.

The width of the KAATSU Air Bands are much narrower than blood pressure cuffs and tourniquets. This is done to prevent arterial flow occlusion and to enable the ease of movement and motion of the limbs for walking, running, spinning, cycling, calisthenics, physical therapy, aqua therapy, swimming, throwing, kicking, pulling, pushing, or any specific athletic or fitness activities.

The air bladder inside the bands inflates uniformly and towards the limb, and is precisely controlled by KAATSU equipment and algorithms.

The bands can be immediately deflated by either pushing buttons on the monitoring units, depressing the valves on the connectors, or releasing the velcro on the bands.

Safety Has Always Been First and Foremost

There is good reason why KAATSU The Original BFR has been around for decades and is currently distributed in 49 countries: KAATSU is safe.

While other BFR companies stress muscle building and utilize all types and sizes of tourniquets and modified blood pressure cuffs on people with bulging muscles and youthful, fit bodies, KAATSU took a much different approach. As the pioneer of the BFR market, KAATSU had to clearly demonstrate safety above all - well before other BFR companies and products were sold online.

KAATSU spent 10 years behind closed doors (at the University of Tokyo Hospital) testing its original Blood Flow Restriction equipment and protocols with over 7,000 older cardiac rehab patients.

These patients were mostly over 50 years old - some as old as 104. They all had cardiac problems that needed to be addressed by the cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital. Between 2004 and 2014, KAATSU spent its time, energy and budget on perfecting its protocols for older, more sedentary, weaker individuals - not the young and fit, not the muscular and active.

There was no overt marketing, ubiquitous social media campaigns, or slick websites. The KAATSU doctors simply conducted painstakingly detailed research and testing using ultrasound, MRI, and blood sampling and analyses on thousands of patients by medical doctors and PhD's.

Led by KAATSU inventor Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, cardiologist Dr. Toshiaki Nakajima, cardiologist Dr. Toshihiro Morita and their colleagues, KAATSU tested and fine-tuned their equipment and protocols. Ultimately, KAATSU and its original Blood Flow Restriction modalities and pressures were proven safe and effective - and convenient - for cardiac rehab patients.

After that decade-long testing was completed, the protocols and KAATSU Air Band pressures were standardized across the board so the proven protocols could be used at home, at work and during travel.

KAATSU equipment requires strict adherence to these easy-to-follow protocols that were developed with safety for all in mind.

Read more of KAATSU's published research.