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    What are the Benefits of Red Light Therapy? Helping Athletes to Recover & Perform Better?

    August 04, 2022 4 min read

    What are the Benefits of Red Light Therapy? Helping Athletes to Recover & Perform Better?

    As an athlete you’re always pushing yourself to your limit and following a strict training schedule to up your game and maximize your performance. You do all the right things to care for your body, including dedicating a big portion of your training time to ensure your muscles are recovered and ready for the next challenge…but how can you accelerate and optimize this process? You might not know that low–level wavelengths of light can be used to promote growth and photosynthesis in plant cells is now becoming popular amongst athletes and physical trainers… Meet Red Light Therapy!  But what is Red Light Therapy? Red Light Therapy can also be called RLT and can also be known by other names which include photobiomodulation (PBM), low level light therapy (LLLT), soft laser therapy, cold laser therapy, biostimulation, photonic stimulation, and low-power laser therapy (LPLT). So there’s a lot of names for Red Light Therapy, but what is red light therapy exactly and how does it work and why could it be beneficial to athletes? Read on to find out.


    What’s the Science Behind Red Light Therapy? 

    To understand how the Red Light Therapy works for athletes it is important to understand how the mitochondria of the cell works, and how it’s important for our energy production. Another name for the mitochondria would be the “powerhouse” of the cell as it is where energy is being produced through cellular respiration and distributed to other parts of the cell. How does this affect muscles? Your muscles need energy to recover and perform better, and helping the mitochondria to boost cell regeneration will result in more energy being distributed to the cells in the muscle tissue. 


    How it Works and What are the Benefits ? 

    As the mitochondria revealed to be  photosensitive to this light, this form of therapy stimulates cells to regenerate more efficiently, which results in better muscle activation, reduces muscle damage, and prevents inflammation. This means that if you use Red Light Therapy your muscles can last longer during training and recover faster because it has been provided with more cell regeneration, resulting in more energy being produced. Consequently, increasing blood flow and oxygen being pumped through your muscles. Also according to  Healthline: “​​There are many different types of red light therapy. Red light beds found at salons are said to help reduce cosmetic skin issues, like  stretch marks and  wrinkles. Red light therapy used in an medical office setting may be used to treat more serious conditions, like  psoriasis, slow-healing wounds, and even the  side effects of chemotherapy.” The benefits of Red Light Therapy are broad and far-reaching and transcend the athletic world for multi-faceted benefits. 


    According to Well+Good’s article about how Red Light Therapy is the  New “It” Muscle Recovery Treatment: “Muscle soreness often occurs when cellular waste accumulates in the muscle cells and causes inflammation, according to the  American College of Sports Medicine. Red light therapy may improve blood flow to and from your muscles, helping carry that waste away, says Walker. Ultimately, this reduces muscle inflammation and soreness, allowing athletes to get back to the gym quicker and harder than they would without the therapy, she says. One 2016 study published in the journal  Laser Therapy  found that college athletes who used red light therapy bounced back from injury nearly twice as quickly as those who did not.”


    Where Does Performance & Tissue Recovery Come in?

    The more you demand of your muscle during training, the more oxygen and energy it demands. It is completely normal to get sore after pushing your limits, and it’s actually part of the process of muscle growth. But what if you could accelerate this repair process? This is where the magic begins because the Red Light Therapy works by stimulating cell regeneration and helps the “damaged” muscle tissue get repaired faster. Same concept is observed with injuries, and back to play reduction time. By accelerating the repair of your muscles, the sooner you can level-up your performance and face the next challenge. It is a cycle of recovering, training, repeating.


    Red Light Therapy is Not Only for After Training…but Before! 

    The interesting part shown by researchers is that this type of therapy is not only recommended to  recover after training, but before  too…especially if you’re doing  strength training. According to a study conducted to measure the perfect timing for the therapy, those who were performing strength workouts and went through therapy before, increased their number of repetitions significantly. 


    What are the experts saying about Red Light Therapy?

    Speaking with Men’s Journal, Michael Hamblin, a photomedicine researcher at Harvard Medical School with three decades of experience in the study of light as a therapeutic aid, “Red light therapy may help you recover from exercise, sleep better, heal wounds and injuries like tendonitis, reduce arthri­tis—and it may simply make you feel better, which is something that’s hard to quantify.”


    It’s already been used in an Olympic setting!

    According to  Men’s Journal, The US track team utilized a $181,000 “photo biomodulation pod” aka a red light bed/pod while they were training and competing at the 2016 olympics in Rio. Men’s Journal illustrates their coach, Alberto Salazar’s belief in the light therapy’s ability to help recovery, healing, and assist with training.


    How to Implement Red Light Therapy in Your Training? 

    Although it can be used to recover from sports injuries, Red Light Therapy can be part of your training routine. However, before you do so, it is essential to be aware of how to implement it the right way. For that, getting professional help or consulting with a physician should be the first step before taking advantage of this recovery method. Also, there is very little risk when implementing Red Light Therapy into your routine. Speaking to  Well+Good , Dr. Dan Pardi, PhD and chief health architect at  Restore Hyper Wellness,  explains: “This type of light is very safe,” says Dr. Pardi. “While it does penetrate the skin, it does not burn or cause DNA damage.”

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