KAATSU – In Medical Terms

Local and Systemic Mechanisms of KAATSU Training

When KAATSU Bands are applied correctly (proper position and pressure), arterial in-flow is restricted, deep venous out-flow is impeded, and the capillary-venous space becomes distended and congested in the muscle distal to the KAATSU Bands. Muscle contraction under these conditions of restricted and impeded blood flow and congested vascular space, uses up intracellular phosphates energy stores and oxygen at a rate greater than the circulation can replenish them. Metabolic waste products accumulate. Homeostasis in the active muscle is lost. Consequently, as the tissue becomes more hypoxic and energy stores depleted, anaerobic glycolysis attempts to compensate by increasing its rate, which produces some ATP, but also produces a marked disturbance in muscle homeostasis, ultimately raising intracellular, interstitial and blood lactic acid concentrations. Hypoxia, acidosis, lactate ion per se, inorganic phosphate, AMP and many other local factors have been shown to turn on transcription and thus, protein synthesis in muscle cells. This is the so-called “local effect” of KAATSU that results in stimulation of muscle, tendon and vascular growth.

The marked disturbance of muscle homeostasis and vascular bed congestion is communicated to the central nervous system (CNS) by group III and IV afferent nerves. These afferent nerves communicate this “distress” to the CNS. It is perceived cortically (consciously), as a type of pain (i.e. what one feels when doing KAATSU), but there are many subconscious synapses that stimulate efferent output in a variety of centers. For example, connections to and in the cardiovascular control centers stimulate an increase in breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Another example is hypothalamic release of growth hormone releasing factor (GHRF) to the anterior pituitary which releases growth hormone (GH), which in turn, stimulates insulin growth factor I (IGF-I) release from the liver, which is part of the “systemic response” to repair and grow skeletal muscle and repair injury. In addition, various substances in the venous blood of the exercising muscle modifies and amplifies the changes occurring from both local and systemic mechanisms as the blood is redistributed to other vascular beds.