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 (i.e., 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.

Click the video to see Dr. Sato the Inventor of KAATSU.


KAATSU safely reduces venous flow, leading blood to pool in your limbs longer than normal.

During KAATSU capillaries lengthen and expand to help improve circulation and vascular elasticity


KAATSU leads to production of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) and nitric oxide in the body.

Nitric oxide allows blood vessels to constrict and relax, and also regulates the inflammatory cells in the blood vessel walls.


Lactate builds up in the muscle causing the pituitary gland to secrete growth hormone

During and after Kaatsu Human Growth Hormone is secreted in large amounts activating the body’s metabolism.

Recent scientific research shows results of 280% more Human Growth Hormone release than the normal 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.



KAATSU Band Design

KAATSU the Original Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is generically described by Japanese physicians as Blood Flow Modification due to a variety of factors including the specific design and engineering of the KAATSU Air Bands.

After 35 years of Research Kaatsu is the World Leader in Blood Flow Restriction Training and is the Only Original BFR device on the market that is following Dr. Sato’s 35 years Research for Safety.

  1. Stretchable Material for BFR

The Bands are designed to reduce venous flow (blood flow back to the torso).The Bands do not occlude arterial flow (blood flow to the limbs). This is very different from blood pressure cuffs that are specifically designed to occlude (cut off) blood flow to the limbs. 

  1. Patented BFR Width

The Width of the Bands is also much different than a blood pressure cuff (i.e., it avoids arterial flow occlusion). The Bands very importantly allows for ease of movement of the limbs (for walking, running, cycling, calisthenics, physical therapy, swimming, throwing, pulling, pushing or any specific movements required in sports or fitness).

  1. Unique BFR Function

The Bands include baffles and a stretchable air bladder that inflates uniformly and towards the limb, precisely controlled by the KAATSU monitoring units (e.g., KAATSU Master 2.0, KAATSU Nano, KAATSU Wearables).

  1. Maximum BFR Safety

The Bands can be immediately deflated by either pushing buttons on the monitoring units, depressing the value on the connectors, or releasing the Velcro on the Bands.

  1. Safe For All Ages

The Bands and the Devices are specifically designed and engineered to follow the 35 year research of Dr. Sato and the Japanese team.

Users of all ages can use it with maximum safety. The Patented Width, the Stretchable Material, 35 years of Research and the unique BFR function make it the safest BFR bands on the market without any risk of Occlusion (stop the blood flow).

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.

Published Research

Here is a guide to all of KAATSU’s Published Research.

Cardiovascular and metabolic responses to walking with and without leg blood flow restrictionDownload
Cross-Transfer Effects of Resistance Training with Blood Flow RestrictionDownload
Effect of 42 week walk training with blood flow reduction on muscle size and strength in the elderlyDownload
Effect of knee extension exercise with KAATSU on forehead cutaneous blood flow in healthy young and middle-aged womenDownload
Effects of KAATSU on muscular function during isometric exerciseDownload
Effects of KAATSU training on haemostasis in healthy subjectsDownload
Effects of low-intensity KAATSU resistance training on skeletal muscle size-strength and endurance capacity in patients with ischemic heart diseaseDownload
Effects of Low-Intensity Walk Training With Restricted Leg Blood Flow on Muscle Strength and Aerobic Capacity in Older AdultsDownload
Effects of resistance exercise combined with moderate vascular occlusion on muscular function in humansDownload
Hemodynamic and hormonal responses to a short-term low-intensity resistance exercise with the reduction of muscle blood flowDownload
KAATSU Training – Application to Metabolic Syndrome (English)Download
Muscle activation during low-intensity muscle contractions with varying levels of external limb compressionDownload
Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, Kaatsu-walk trainingDownload
Rapid increase in plasma growth hormone after low-intensity resistance exercise with vascular occlusionDownload
Repetitive restriction of muscle blood flow enhances mTOR signaling pathways in a rat model in the Heart and Vessels Journal (January 2016)Download
Skeletal muscle size and circulating IGF-1 are increased after two weeks of twice daily KAATSU resistance trainingDownload
Thigh muscle size and vascular function after blood flow-restricted elastic band training in older womenDownload
Use and Safety of KAATSU – Results of a National Survey in JapanDownload