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Kaatsu (Japanese: 加圧, often styled as KAATSU or KAATSU[1]) is a patented exercise method developed by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato that is based on blood flow moderation exercise (or vascular occlusion moderation training) involving compression of the vasculature proximal to the exercising muscles by the Kaatsu Master device.


In 1966 at the age of 18 while Yoshiaki Sato was attending a Buddhist ceremony in his native Japan, his legs went numb while sitting in the traditional Japanese posture on the floor. Out of desperation, he began to massage his calves in an attempt to relieve the discomfort during the long ceremony. He realized that his blood circulation was blocked in his calves as he was sitting directly on his feet. This was when he conceived the original idea of blood flow moderation training.

Over the next 7 years, he experimented on himself by applying different bicycle tubes, ropes and bands at different pressures on various parts of his body. after years of trial and error, he developed effective protocols to safely modify blood flow in his limbs. By 1973 at the age of 25, Sato developed the details of Kaatsu as it is currently practiced. Between 1973 and 1982, Sato conducted Kaatsu Training and developed protocols that worked best for people of different ages and with various kinds of afflictions.


In 1994, Sato applied for his first patents in Japan (Patent No. 2670421), U.S.A. (Patent No. 6149618), and Europe (UK, Germany, France, Italy with 94206403.0) as he produced the first Kaatsu Training bands. In 1997, Sato introduced the Kaatsu Instructor educational program where his defined protocols were shared with coaches, trainers, physical therapists and physicians throughout Japan. Over 3,000 Kaatsu Instructors were certified.


Kaatsu Training was named one of the collaborative projects of the University of Tokyo Hospital’s 22nd Century Medical and Research Center. Sato also began to offer an ischemic circulatory physiology course at the University of Tokyo Hospital and conducted joint development work with the Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation.

In the 1990s, Sato began joint research with Professor Naokata Ishii of the Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, at The University of Tokyo. Other researchers in Japan started to explore the benefits of Kaatsu and various research results were submitted to peer-review publications. In 2009, Dr. Sato signed a joint development agreement at China’s Jilin University and the National Research Institute of Sports Science of China. In 2014, Dr Sato established the Kaatsu Research Foundation.

Chairman of the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina, Shawn M Arent, is studying the effects of the method for the US Defense Department.[2]

How Kaatsu works[edit]

According to physical therapist Nicholas Rolnick, if someone exercises while restricting blood flow, blood and metabolic byproducts become "stuck in the muscle, unable to leave." Due to the presence of the metabolites, the muscles become 'fatigued', forcing the muscle to work harder than it normally would need to, to produce contractions under light loads. The extra effort created together with the blood flow restriction, speeds up the process of building muscle mass, increasing strength.[3][4]


The second generation of KAATSU equipment was launched in 2004 with the introduction of the KAATSU Master and the KAATSU Air Bands. The KAATSU Master device quantified and monitored the precise pressure applied to users’ legs and arms.

In 2006, Sato completed the design of a smaller, portable, programmable KAATSU device called the KAATSU Master Mini. Sato developed other applications for KAATSU users like KAATSU for speed and stamina as well as KAATSU Beauty and stress relief. He also designed the KAATSU Chair.



  1. ^ "Photographic image of Kaatsu Training Logo" (JPG). Par-golf.co.jp. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  2. ^ Futterman, Matthew (2021-07-21). "A Hot Fitness Trend Among Olympians: Blood Flow Restriction". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
  3. ^ Kristen Rogers. "Why kaatsu, a fitness trend spotted at the Games, isn't just for Olympians". CNN. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
  4. ^ "Olympic Athletes Are Into Blood Flow Restriction Training | Everyday Health". EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
  5. ^ Centner, Christoph; Lauber, Benedikt; Seynnes, Olivier R.; Jerger, Simon; Sohnius, Tim; Gollhofer, Albert; König, Daniel (2019-11-14). "Low-load blood flow restriction training induces similar morphological and mechanical Achilles tendon adaptations compared with high-load resistance training". Journal of Applied Physiology. 127 (6): 1660–1667. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00602.2019. ISSN 8750-7587. PMID 31725362. S2CID 208041090.
  6. ^ Rolnick, Nicholas; Schoenfeld, Brad (October 2020). "Blood Flow Restriction Training and the Physique Athlete: A Practical Research-Based Guide to Maximizing Muscle Size". Strength & Conditioning Journal. 42 (5): 22–36. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000553. S2CID 219095278.
  7. ^ Patterson, Stephen; Head, Paul; Hughes, Luke; Warmington, Stuart; Brandner, Christopher (June 2017). "Blood flow restriction training: A novel approach to augment clinical rehabilitation: How to do it". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 51 (3): 1648–1649. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097738. PMID 28642225. S2CID 206883223 – via Research Gate.

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