Less soreness and increased repetitions
In today’s blog we are going to cover the topic of Red Light Therapy for Muscle Recovery.
- Muscle Stimulation
- RLT and Muscle Recovery
- Relevant studies on Enhanced Performance
Muscles are the largest type of tissue in your body. During exercise, muscles have different responses depending on the duration, form and intensity of the workout.
What happens generally in the muscles when you work out?
The answer could be very complicated, but if we simplify things, while you are working out, your muscles begin to create tiny tears. These tears in the tissue allow muscle cell organelles to be disrupted, activating cells external to your muscles, who enter the muscle cells in order to repair muscle damage. The cells replicate and eventually become part of the muscle fiber. This later helps form new muscle protein strands, which allows your muscles to grow in strength for future workouts.
Resting and recovering the muscles plays an important part in allowing muscles to properly function and grow. Let’s dive into how Red light therapy can speed up this part of the process.
RLT and Muscle Recovery
And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just your muscle cells that affect your workout performance. Red blood cells, for instance, also influence your workout capacity. Let us explain to you how this happens.
Red blood cells carry oxygen. In turn, that oxygen determines how much energy your cells are able to create.
Red light therapy allows your red blood cells to carry more oxygen (1, 2).
Greater oxygen carrying capacity by your red blood cells, in turn, translates into higher energy-production in your cells. This effect on oxygen is rarely emphasised, and yet, very important for your workout recovery.
The improved capacity to carry oxygen can be likened to enhancement of your circulatory system. And guess what, with red light therapy blood flow literally increases (2).
Another important thing to mention, observed in animal studies, is that levels of growth hormone and fibroblast growth factor (which helps build fibrous material such as tendons and ligaments) also “rapidly increased” (5).
Your benefit is quicker recovery and healing of tissues that normally have a poor blood supply.
In humans, studies also show that red light therapy increases skin blood flow (3).
Healthy young males specifically saw their blood flow in the biceps increase after the application of a red light laser, for instance (4).
Stem cells are the primordial cells of your body that can differentiate into many different cells, such as muscle or nerve cells.
In other words, red light therapy helps existing stem cells proliferate into new functions (5). As a result, the healing and/or recovery processes are sped up because stem cells are increasingly and more optimally used.
Many tissues can actually be affected through stem cell activation by red light therapy, such as those found in bone marrow, teeth, ligaments (which hold bones and joints together), and in your body fat (6).
Relevant studies on Enhanced Performance
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 (3).
- 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 (9). 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.
- Many studies that are actually using the correct dosages demonstrate less inflammation and lower lactate levels (10; 11; 12).
This list is only partial – we could have included 20-30 more studies on the same topic.
The application of red light therapy is also more complex than it might seem.
Different dosages, or using 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.
To conclude, red light therapy is the secret recovery weapon you have 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 risk and results guaranteed.
*You can find all the studies used for this blog below.
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*Sources of information:
- Low-Level Light Therapy Protects Red Blood Cells Against Oxidative Stress and Hemolysis During Extracorporeal Circulation https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29904353/
- Study on mechanism of release oxygen by photo-excited hemoglobin in low-level laser therapy – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29067617/
- [Impact of low level laser therapy on skin blood flow] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27416624
- 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/
- 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