How to Recover Quicker from Workouts?
Do you want to reach your athletic potential?
In the last Olympics, you might have noticed more and more athletes using light therapy devices around the Olympic Village and stadium. You can get huge benefits from putting red and near-infrared light on your muscles.
There are 2 main ways athletes can benefit from Photobiomodulation (Red Light Therapy) devices, in particular red and near-infrared wavelengths. The first is through preconditioning before an event. It has been proven that time to exhaustion is extended with such light therapy. Secondly there is after an event, or training session, as Red Light Therapy helps assist recovery and delayed onset of muscle soreness (or the dreaded DOMS as you might know it).
According to Dr Joseph Mercola, red and near-infrared therapy will:
- Increase microcirculation in the tissues
- Increase tissue oxygenation
- Stimulate mitochondria and improve energy production in damaged cells
World-class athletes (Tiger Woods is one of them) have been using phototherapy to speed up recovery from sports injuries for years now. According to many studies, cells (including muscle cells) exposed to near-infrared light from LEDs grow 150-200% faster than cells not stimulated by this light. These statistics represent so much more than just marginal gains!
How is this super healing power achieved?
As previously mentioned in other articles, NASA has known about the benefits of Red Light Therapy since 1998 and have been using it to benefit their high-performance teams since then.
Near-infrared wavelengths have the ability to penetrate the cells 5cm below the skin, and that is why you are able to generate healing and recovery deep into your muscles. This is the unique power of the Red Light Therapy technology.
The near-infrared wavelengths increase microcirculation and the formation of new capillaries. This results in the area receiving more oxygen and nutrients to assist with the natural healing process. This means that pain can be relieved, muscles will stop aching and recover faster, and inflamed joints will loosen up and improve in mobility.
The visible red and near-infrared light energy induce the same process in the targeted cells. Through the absorption of the light photons, the photochemical reaction eventually causes the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the fuel of all cells in your body.
This causes increased synthesis of procollagen in fibroblasts which causes cells to rebuild and regenerate. The end result of this being increased collagen and elastin synthesis, with the healing and strengthening of damaged tissue.
Due to the energy systems being stimulated in the blood as well, LED phototherapy has a systemic effect on inflammatory or immune cells in nonadjacent tissues to the target area, as well as those cells in the targeted area. This means that the benefits and energy created will not be limited to the treated area, but will travel to nearby cells as well.
How will this improve my training performance?
Your muscles are full of mitochondria. Therefore, the stimulation of ATP in your mitochondria will give your muscles more energy to perform, improving physical performance, extending the elapsed time and total number of repetitions to fatigue. It has also shown to improve the clearance of blood lactate immediately after exercise.
There are studies recorded that support the use of Red Light Therapy to enhance muscle hypertrophy and strength. Although these were relatively small studies, the potential to improve muscle gains by over 50% compared to a controlled group without the Red Light Therapy over an 8-week training program is incredible.
Yet more studies point to evidence that phototherapy administered before resistance exercise has consistently been found to delay DOMS, reduce fatigue response, improve post exercise recovery and protecting the cells from exercise-induced damage. There were decreases in markers of inflammation and muscle atrophy, while protein synthesis and oxidative stress defense were up-regulated.
Recovery plays a huge role in the training cycle. Through using light therapy, and stimulating mitochondrial action and turning stem cells into healthy muscle tissue, the growth of new muscle cells is stimulated and the repair process following muscle tears incurred through training is enhanced.
Increased collagen and elastin synthesis will speed up muscle repair and therefore muscle growth post workout. Through the increased blood flow, muscle scarring will be reduced, decreasing the risk of future injuries and immobility.
What intensity matters for maximum results?
Previously we have touched on the intensity of the light, and also the depths that red and near-infrared wavelengths can penetrate.
In order to penetrate deeper into the muscles, 780-850nm wavelengths are advised to have the most effective benefit. These can penetrate 5cm beneath the skin.
Evidence also recommends the appropriate intensity required for maximal benefit. Power outputs between 30 and 200mW/cm2 are most effective, with doses of 5 and 6 Joules per treatment area. Therefore, at 150cm from our Full Stack, this would generate 20mW/cm2 intensity, meaning you would require 6 minutes treatment to accumulate the recommend energy (of 6 Joules) from these studies. Alternatively at 20cm you would be receiving 100mW/cm2 intensity and require a 1 minute treatment time to accumulate 6 Joules of energy.
Other benefits from a training angle include enhanced circadium rhythm and therefore increased deep sleep, which all athletes will know is imperative to recovery.
Also, for the training males, near-infrared light has been shown to increase levels of testosterone, which is used in increasing muscle size, strength and overall performance. More information on this in a later article though.
Red Light Therapy brings a natural healing mechanism with results that you would only expect from Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)! It is a non-invasive treatment that can form an important part of your training and lifestyle routing.
We have enough evidence to demonstrate reduced muscle damage, pain and atrophy, while increasing muscle mass, recovery and athletic performance!
If you are looking to maximize your athletic performance, or just enhance your gains, then a Red Light Therapy device can be just the thing you are looking to include in your daily routine to optimise your performance.
If you have any shots of you preparing for your next big session, or as you’re recovering ‘like a beast’, please share these with us on social media and we will give you a shout out!
As always, if you have any questions, thoughts or feedback, please reach out to us through Social Media or our Contact Us page.
Thanks again for supporting us, get out there and enjoy the light!
The Red Light Rising Team