Benefits of Red Light Therapy for athletes
If you’re an athlete, you know you will do just about anything (legal that is) to improve your performance, increase energy, recover faster, and heal injuries quicker. LED red light therapy can provide incredible benefits for athletes. The most effective red light therapy products (like ours here) use both red and near-infrared LED lights. These specific wavelengths are then absorbed by the cells and set off a variety of intracellular reactions leading to a host of benefits. Read below for more information on each of the benefits red light therapy can provide you as an athlete.
Accelerated Recovery Time
One study from the Journal of Laser Therapy examined the effects of red light therapy on a group of injured college athletes. The main objective was to measure the time it took each athlete to return to play (RTP) following their injury. Out of 112 total participants, 65 used LED red light therapy treatments on their injuries. These athletes recorded a mean RTP time of 9.6 days whereas the athletes who did not use the LED red light treatments recorded a mean RTP time of 19.23 days. One researcher stated, “LED phototherapy significantly and safely reduced the RTP in dedicated university athletes over a wide range of injuries with no adverse events.”
“Recovery is your edge,” says Dr. Ara Suppiah, one of the world’s leading sports doctors. “Most athletes are wired to train, to push through despite not feeling great. And yet, if you recover better than your competitors, you can train harder and compete for longer. It’s what will separate you from the competition.
At its root, red light increases the production of ATP in the mitochondria of your cells. Plainly put, red light increases cellular energy. This increase in ATP production really is one of the “super benefits” of LED red light therapy. As your individual cells begin to produce more ATP, this gives them more energy to complete every other task throughout the body. Cellular communication, cognition (thinking, feeling, etc), movement, recovery, and more.
As an athlete, this can mean not just more energy when you are training, but more energy after training and throughout the rest of your day.
Boost strength, speed & muscle growth
Many studies have now demonstrated the fact that red light treatments can boost strength, speed, and muscle growth. One study measured max torque in leg pressing exercises as well as the number of repetitions of hand and grip exercises. They found that participants who utilized red light therapy prior to exercise had a 55% higher leg torque in leg exercises and had 52% more repetitions in the hand and grip exercises compared to participants who did not use red light therapy.
Increased endurance is another powerful benefit of red light therapy in an athlete’s performance. In another study, researchers determined that light therapy treatments “applied before and after endurance-training exercise sessions lead to improvement of endurance three times faster than exercise only.” Likewise, a 2018 study concluded that pre-exercise red light treatments can “increase the time-to-exhaustion and oxygen uptake and also decrease the body fat in healthy volunteers when compared to placebo.”
“A separate study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology compared muscle growth and strength between two groups of athletes—one using light therapy combined with exercise, the other using exercise alone—and found that muscle thickness and strength were significantly improved (by over 50%) in those who used light therapy.”
Inflammation is a major contributing factor to acute or chronic pain. Red and near-infrared light therapy can help reduce pain by increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and stimulating cell regeneration. Acute injuries for athletes usually involve damage to muscle, ligaments, etc. As blood flow is increased to the area of injury, inflammation begins to recede, in turn reducing pain. Likewise, this increased blood flow allows fresh nutrients to be delivered to the site of injury and quickens the pace of cell regeneration.
Soreness is also a common ailment of many athletes. While not always stemming from a specific injury, soreness can become quite bothersome and hinder your workout performance. Soreness comes from a buildup of inflammation in the body. Even if you are not dealing with an acute injury, LED red light treatments can dramatically reduce the occurrence of soreness after workouts or training sessions.
How To Use Red Light Therapy
Studies have determined that utilizing red light therapy treatments before and after exercise leads to performance improvements the fastest.
For General Performance Improvements – If possible, apply red light to the entire body using a full-length red light panel or mat. Treatment times can vary, but most studies recommend anywhere between 10-25 minutes.
For Injury Recovery/Pain Relief – Apply red light directly to injured or painful area for 15-25 minutes, up to three times daily. We recommend a smaller device like our Travel Tabletop LED Red Light to target specific areas.