Reduce fatigue and recover quicker
In today’s blog we are going to cover the topic of Red Light Therapy for Footballers or athletes in general.
- RLT and Muscle Recovery
- RLT and Injury Recovery
- Enhanced Sleep
Football players are one of (if not) the fittest athletes in the world. In order to be ready for a match, they need to follow very strict fitness routines and nutrition regimens.
Just for you to picture the physical requirements of these athletes, here’s some data:
- NFL wide receivers and cornerbacks run an average of 1.25 miles within four 15-minute quarters.
- NBA players run an average of 3 miles throughout four 12-minute periods.
- Tennis players run an average of 3-5 miles during a five-set match (Which can last up to 5 hours).
- FOOTBALL PLAYERS run as much as 7 miles per 90-minute game.
That is pretty impressive and also why football players, although they play in a team sport, the physicality of the athletes is compared to solo competitors such as cyclists, marathon runners and Ironman triathletes.
In other words, football players need to have a great balance in speed, endurance and dexterity that’s why they are considered one of the fittest athletes in the world.
RLT and Muscle Recovery
There are several studies on RLT that show: rapid recovery, less soreness, reduced fatigue, and decreased inflammation. Below we share a few of them.
- If you do a session of red light therapy on your arms each day, you’ll better maintain your strength over time in the face of fatigue (7).
- In one study, the biceps muscles were exercised maximally and to failure (8). The group of participants receiving red light therapy showed decreased muscle soreness (DOMS), experienced less strength loss due to fatigue, and had better maintenance of range of movement of the joint. By applying red light therapy you’ll be less fatigued when you’re performing a maximum number of repetitions at a given weight (9).
- One group of soccer players who received red light therapy on their leg muscles after a workout had significantly lower lactate levels than the groups receiving red light therapy before the workout or no therapy at all (10). High levels of lactate is what causes the feeling of a pump. Excess lactate also decreases performance. And if red light therapy dosages were higher in this study, I’m sure fatigue and performance would have been affected as well.
- Finally, many studies that are actually using the correct dosages demonstrate less inflammation and lower lactate levels (11; 12; 13).
This list is only partial – we could have included 20-30 more studies on the same topic.
Red light therapy before or after a workout can lead to different effects.
For instance, using your panel after a workout seems to have the most profound effect on lactate levels and inflammation.
Red light therapy before a workout, however, may lead to greater immediate increases in workout performance. For reducing fatigue during exercise, using red light therapy before a workout may also be superior.
If you have the time, we recommend a RLT session before and after your workout to maximise results.
RLT and Injury Recovery
Although players follow strict regiments that prioritise resting to allow the body time to recover, accidents do happen and injuries occur.
Let’s be honest, injuries are something serious that can take weeks, months, or even years to heal, in some cases. In most instances, it is recommended that you keep moving and not overtaxing yourself (worsen the injury) to help you heal faster.
Red light therapy is a great solution to speed up the recovery process. Below is a list of some benefits and studies on the topic.
- Tendon Injuries: Several types of tendon injuries, like a tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, and Achilles tendinitis, are healed more quickly with red light therapy (14). In a tennis elbow, for instance, overall strength also increases (15).
- Muscle Sprains: Sprains of any sort of muscle can be effectively treated with Red Light therapy as well (16; 17).
- Ligaments: Ligaments also heal quicker in animal studies (21; 22). Ligaments connect your bones with each other and provide joint stability. In an ankle sprain, it’s mostly the ligaments that are affected, for instance – such incidents often take weeks if not months to heal. The ligament-healing effect of red light is very welcome because such injuries are harder to treat than muscle problems (in most cases).
- Fiber Regeneration: In animal studies, where muscle trauma can be intentionally induced, red light therapy enhances the overall inflammatory process and leads to greater functionality despite the injury (19). Even when back nerves are injured in animals, nerve and myelin regeneration improved (20). Myelin is a sheath around the nerve that allows for quicker conductivity. Muscle fibers also recovered more quickly.
- Injury Pain: Red light therapy also decreases overall pain. For instance, even if you’ve broken your lower leg, red light therapy allows you to use fewer painkillers during the healing process (18).
- Bones: lastly, even bone itself regenerates quicker with red light therapy (23; 24; 25). In animal studies, the mineral density of the bone literally improves (26; 27).
Because of the benefits for muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, red light therapy it’s an amazing tool in the toolbox to help any football player recover quicker.
It is widely known that if you do not sleep well, you will not recover well. Far too many people underestimate the role of sleep in recovery processes.
Consistently getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night is ideal but of course the quality of your sleep does matter.
Let’s see how red light therapy can help you make the most out of your sleep hours (28).
In a study with 20 young Chinese participants, the group of 10 people receiving the red light therapy exposure, increased their sleep quality at night. Overall melatonin levels also improved.
- Melatonin helps you fall asleep quickly, keeps you asleep, and increases the amount of deep sleep you get.
That increase in sleep quality translated into better endurance in turn.
The most amazing data about this study is that only teenagers and young adults, whose sleep quality is already high and harder to improve, were included.
Lastly, a recent study from June 2019 showed that red light therapy improves sleep quality for insomniacs as well (29). Insomniacs fell asleep quicker with red light therapy, had fewer awakenings, and experienced more deep sleep each night.
Of course, it’s very likely that improved sleep quality translated into better workout recovery in the end as well.
To conclude, red light therapy is the secret recovery weapon every footballer has been searching for.
You just need 20 minutes a day to expose yourself to the light and let all the benefits take you to the next level. No risks involved and results guaranteed.
What are you waiting for to become the best version of yourself?
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*Sources of information:
- Effect of low-level laser therapy on blood flow and oxygen- hemoglobin saturation of the foot skin in healthy subjects: a pilot study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24155546/
- Study on mechanism of release oxygen by photo-excited hemoglobin in low-level laser therapy – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29067617/
- Limb Blood Flow After Class 4 Laser Therapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418129/
- Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
- Effect of low-level laser therapy on mesenchymal stem cell proliferation: a systematic review – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25764448/
- Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy Applied Before Treadmill Training on Recovery of Injured Skeletal Muscle in Wistar Rats –https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860654/
- Effect of 830 nm low-level laser therapy in exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue in humans – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18649044/
- [Impact of low level laser therapy on skin blood flow] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27416624/
- Effects of pre- or post-exercise…https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24456143
- Effect of low-level laser therapy…https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24005882
- Effect of cluster multi-dio…https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19731300
- Effect of low-level laser therapy…https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20436237
- Low level laser therapy for sports injuries https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24155545
- Low level laser treatment of tendinopathy: a systematic review with meta-analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19708800
- Long-term effect of high-intensity laser therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized blinded placebo-controlled trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24178907/
- Dose response effects of 810 nm laser light on mouse primary cortical neurons https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21956634/
- The effect of low-level laser on postoperative pain after tibial fracture surgery: a double-blind controlled randomized clinical trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25237637/
- Low-level laser therapy attenuates the acute inflammatory response induced by muscle traumatic injury https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26983894
- Effects of 660 and 780 nm low-level laser therapy on neuromuscular recovery after crush injury in rat sciatic nerve https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20976807
- Low-level laser therapy improves early healing of medial collateral ligament injuries in rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16356146
- Anti-inflammatory effects of low-level laser therapy on human periodontal ligament cells: in vitro study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29116611
- The Effect of Low-Level Laser Therapy on Bone Healing After Rapid Maxillary Expansion: A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29072861
- Histologic Evaluation of Early Bone Regeneration Treated with Simvastatin Associated with Low-Level Laser Therapy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30892287
- Effect of Low-Level Laser Therapy on Bone Regeneration During Osseointegration and Bone Graft https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28742438
- Effect of low-level laser therapy on the fracture healing process https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19399356
- Low-level laser therapy improves bone formation: stereology findings for osteoporosis in rat model https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26037661
- Red Light and the Sleep Quality and Endurance Performance of Chinese Female Basketball Players https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499892/
- Effectiveness of Laser Acupuncture in Alleviating Chronic Insomnia: A Single-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31312225