Photobiomodulation: The secret weapon of Olympic athletes around the world

By babsi
12 . 14 . 20

More and more professional athletes use light therapy devices around the Olympic Village and stadium. Systemic Photobiomodulation is also widely used by NFL, MMA, and NBA players to aid their recovery and keep them at peak performance.  But even Victoria Secret Models are jumping on this. Photobiomodulation is not just a trend; it is a longevity must for all.
You can get massive benefits from putting red and near-infrared light on your body. In this blog, we want to talk about optimized fitness, the importance of recovery, and how Photobiomodulation can help you achieve a balance of both.

“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 hard to quantify.” 1

Dr. Michael Hamblin

Table of contents


What is Photobiomodulation, and how does it help athletes?

In the 70s, NASA discovered that we humans need light to thrive in life, similar to plants. They started researching specific wavelengths of light and found that red and near-infrared light activates our mitochondria, where then, more cellular energy (or ATP) is produced. What fun!

If you want to learn more about Photobiomodulation and bioactive wavelengths, see this blog.

When focusing on athletic performance, we see that near-infrared wavelengths can penetrate the cells 5cm below the skin. Microcirculation increases, new capillaries are formed, and more oxygen and nutrients can aid with the natural healing process. It is for this reason that athletes can generate healing and recovery deep into their muscles.
Research shows that cells exposed to near-infrared light grow 150-200% faster than cells not stimulated. 2
Also, pain can be relieved, muscles will stop aching and recover more quickly, and inflamed joints will loosen up and improve in mobility. Red light increases collagen production, elastin in our skin’s fibroblasts and causes the cells to rebuild. Damaged tissue will heal and strengthen at a faster rate. Because we also have mitochondria in our blood cells, systemic effects can occur. Systemic effects mean that the benefits and energy created will not be limited to the treated area but will travel to nearby cells and the body as a whole as well.

What are other benefits of Photobiomodulation?

RL is a superficial light (2mm deep) and can help skin health, hair growth, and circulation. NIR penetrates deep tissue (4mm deep) and reaches our cells, creating more energy (ATP in the mitochondria). Great for anti-aging, pain/inflammation, muscle recovery, energy, mood, and hormonal health (sleep, testosterone).
For more benefits, see this video:

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What is the optimal performance?

“Optimum performance is about playing live at the highest possible level, reaching our fullest potential.”

John Assaraf

Keep in mind: This is a highly subjective and individual topic, as everyone has a different peak performance. Optimizing performance means maximizing YOUR athletic effectiveness. It’s about creating a balance between performance and your natural healing processes/recovery.

Examples of optimal performance

In 2007, four bodybuilders were subjected to lasers under their skin for approximately 20 minutes each session for three weeks. After this period, bodybuilders improved their deadlifts, bench presses, and squats endurance. 3
A 2016 study of identical twins showed that the individual undergoing light therapy treatment over 12 weeks showed 80% better leg pads and reduced muscle weakness compared to the sibling, who had a placebo treatment. 4

Why is recovery essential?

Recovery includes cooling down, resting, proper nutrition, and sleeping like you’re dead between workouts. The magic potion here is listening to your body. Recovery is just as important as the actual workout, if not even more. When we overtrain, we push our body to the breaking point and risk losing our performance. Additionally, the risk of significant injuries, chronic inflammation, insufficient hormonal levels, and a low functioning immune system increases when we don’t recover properly. Proper recovery gives your body time to heal muscle, tissue damage and improve your circulation and overall energy and (later on) performance. How you deal with acute soreness and inflammation, prevent fatigue and injuries, avoid chronic pain directly translates into your athletic performance and longevity. 5
Recovery isn’t just an advantage for athletes; everyone should pay attention to how their body rests and heals to give themselves time to recover from strain and inflammation. 6

How to use Photobiomodulation for recovery and optimal performance

Photobiomodulation aims to boost energy, increase immunity, decrease inflammation, and activate stem cells for healing.  The ideal treatment time found in research is between 5-20 minutes. You can do light exposure before or after exercise:
Light therapy before exercise will help you pre-condition yourself to support better muscle performance. It can also help you limit muscle damage and strain, which can negatively impact performance because of inflammation, soreness, and longer recovery times. 7,8
Light Therapy After Exercise should become part of your training routine. The purpose is to speed the recovery process by accelerating your muscle adaptation to exercise. 7,8 Light therapy after training also helps the body process acute inflammation from working out. 9

Summary

Photobiomodulation brings a natural, non-invasive healing mechanism with scientifically proven results! Athletic performance and recovery are about finding a balance between pushing yourself to your limits and healing from that afterward. We need to acknowledge this correlation, or we will risk chronic injuries, inflammation, and pain. With the help of food, water, and the right kind of light, you’ll give your body and cells what they need to function at the peak level. We have shown you the benefits. Now it’s your turn to improve your physical performance and post-workout recovery.
Research gives us plenty of 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 feel better, a Luminousred device can be just the thing you are looking to include in your daily routine. So far, this technology has come with a hefty price-tag and hard to access expert knowledge. We here want to change this.

Check it our now and supercharge your mitochondria! Get your Luminousred now

Literature

1 How Red Light Therapy Can Help You Sleep Better, Recover Faster, and Train Harder
2 Effect of NASA Light-Emitting Diode Irradiation on Wound Healing. Jan 2002
3 Athletes Are Putting Red Light Up Their Noses. Aug. 2017
4 Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness. Oct. 2016
5 Recovery and Performance in Sport: Consensus Statement. Feb 2018
6 Role of damage and management in muscle hypertrophy. Sep 2020
7 Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) on muscle tissue. Nov 2012
8 Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance?. Dec. 2016
9 Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. May 2017

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Photobiomodulation: The secret weapon of Olympic athletes around the world