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Female athletes training smarter: How Charlotte Potts is using Hytro BFR to boost performance and prevent injury

Women’s football, especially with the current outstanding performance from the England team at the 2023 World Cup, has brought attention to a growing awareness of the physical challenges women can face in elite sport. We caught up with Charlotte Potts, Defender at Newcastle United Women’s to learn how she has been using Hytro BFR to train smarter and prevent injury.

Charlotte Potts, Newcastle United Footballer, wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts

Charlotte returned to the Newcastle United Women’s team in October 2022 after previously playing for the club between 2011 and 2014. Having spent time playing both home and away for Calgary Foothills, FF Lugano, Sunderland Ladies, and Hibernian Ladies, she brings her experience and leadership to the Lady Magpies who not only achieved promotion last season but are also the first team in the FA Women’s National League to turn full-time professional for the 23/24 season.

 

With an ambition to get into the Women’s Super League, Charlotte is using a variety of training methods to be at her best throughout the year, working with her physical and mental health to stay healthy and injury-free.

Charlotte shared: “In season I predominantly do just football and gym training, working around my menstrual cycle and mental health.

In the off-season, I use different training methods to maintain my mental health too. I use boxing to provide that physical release I get from a training session, but it is fun too. It helps to mix up the types of training, so I am not just doing gym-based all the time. This is why I also include BFR training as it mixes things up and the body then must adapt to different sports and training methods – essentially that is what the body needs to do, adapt to different circumstances all the time.”

 

Charlotte has been using the Hytro BFR Performance Shorts since last season and has found them really beneficial. Using knowledge from her past education and a solid understanding of her training needs, she has been able to apply the shorts to train smarter.

She said: “When I was in college, I did an education program with Dame Kelly Holmes where we learned about the benefits of aqua running such as the reduction of impact on the joints. As I am coming towards the end of my career, I am trying to train smarter, rather than harder. During the off-season, I recognised that running in the pool alone wasn’t providing me with the intensity I wanted as I still like to train hard. However, incorporating the Hytro BFR Performance Shorts into the aqua running means I could still get the same intensity and demands from running on the pavement but without the impact on my joints.”

 

BFR offers huge physiological benefits and when administered through the versatility of Hytro wearables, can be utilised in many ways but most effectively when implemented within an existing training program as a targeted add-on. Adding Hytro BFR wearables into an existing training program can be simple and easy to do with a good understanding of what goal is trying to be achieved.

 

Charlotte Potts, Newcastle United Footballer, wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts

 

Charlotte described: “I put my shorts on before getting into the pool, do a few laps without being strapped in to get my heart rate up, and then once the heart rate is ready for exercise, I tighten the straps and do a pyramid session. Starting with running six lengths up and down the pool, by the fifth and sixth lap I am working really hard, and my breathing rate goes up. Then I have a two-minute rest. I then redo a few laps of swimming without being strapped in, then I start running again, this time just four lengths but pushing harder. Then I continue this pattern and go down to two, then work my way back up again to six.

I am working really hard, and it replicates the feeling you have at the end of a football game when you are starting to lose concentration. The legs start to feel weak due to the blood flow being restricted – you can really feel the benefits! It’s also a mental test to see how much you can push when no oxygen is going to the working muscle.”

 

Dr Warren Bradley, Founder of Hytro, adds: “Blood Flow Restriction is an effective add-on to other training protocols, the versatility of our BFR Performance Shorts enables athletes to integrate them into their existing schedules without difficulty. Due to the research-backed in-built safety guardrails, athletes and coaches can combine BFR with other preparation, training and recovery modalities to get maximum effect with minimal effort. Just put the shorts on, understand the simple protocols and time limits we recommend, and then reap the rewards just like Charlotte has done.”

 

Blood Flow Restriction traps blood within the muscle reducing the levels of oxygen available causing the muscle to swell. This increases the difficulty of any exercise or recovery protocol performed which drives quicker and more effective adaptations, such as strength, endurance, and recovery.

When carrying out low-load resistance exercise whilst utilising BFR athletes can obtain similar benefits to when carrying out high-load resistance exercise without BFR. This increase in muscle size and strength has been documented in scientific literature, meaning low-load BFR training is an ideal way to train when trying to reduce load or impact. This offers a flexible solution to female athletes who are looking to continue their training intensity throughout their menstrual cycle.

 

Charlotte shared how she has adapted her training using Hytro BFR: “Before I started using Hytro I used to adapt the intensity of my gym sessions around my cycle to prevent injuries but when I discovered Hytro I thought it would be really beneficial during those certain phases of the month where you are at real risk of injury due to the joints being more lax and the muscles less flexible.

Using Hytro in the gym has allowed me to decrease the weight, use more reps, and still work the muscles, adding more flexibility to my workouts. It has really benefitted me when I step on the pitch and train with the girls. I believe there could be huge benefits in this; at the moment we are seeing lots of knee injuries in the women’s game and we need to look into the scientific reasons as to why it is happening. I believe Hytro could be really beneficial.”

 

Charlotte Potts, Newcastle United Footballer, wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts

 

Hytro are committed to ongoing research to further develop scientific knowledge around the impact of BFR within elite sport performance and have recently become the Official Research Supplier to Bristol City Women’s team where they aim to lead the way in advancements in women’s football performance to enable safer and more effective training methodologies.

 

Charlotte will play the first game of the season against Burnley on Sunday where she hopes to take advantage of the benefits of embedding BFR into her training. Read more to understand how to adopt BFR training like Charlotte and learn how to use the Hytro BFR wearables to enhance training in female athletes and football.

 

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