Building Your Recovery Toolbox: Red Light Therapy

This instalment of The Bey Blog looks at Red Light Therapy and talks about why and how it should be included as part of your regular recovery program.

By
Alexander Nurse Bey
,
on
September 21, 2022

In this installment of the Building Your Recovery Toolbox, we will look at the science behind Red Light Therapy.

Why it works:

Red Light Therapy works by exposing the body to devices that emit an infrared light – a light just below the spectrum human eyes are capable of seeing. The research on Red Light Therapy for improving different aspects of sports performance is quite promising. In my own practice the athletes who use it have nothing but good things to say about its ability to help them feel more prepared for subsequent bouts of training. So for me, the evidence of its efficacy both anecdotally and in the literature makes the product a worthy investment for any athlete – especially during times of higher training stress or practice/competition volume.

Using Red-Light Therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation and the damage (microtrauma) that has been accrued by working tissues; to decrease the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) experienced by athletes after challenging training sessions; and to decrease the amount of lactate present in the blood (which may help promote better strength recovery between same-day or even next-day workouts). Check out this blog post for a refresher on what we are trying to accomplish when talking about "recovery" from a mechanical, metabolic, and neurological standpoint.

From the perspective of performance, there is evidence of Red-Light Therapy increasing testosterone production - helping to maintain a favorable balance between catabolism (tissue/muscle breakdown) and anabolism (tissue/muscle building). Improved repeat sprint performances, increased VO2Maximums, and improved time to exhaustion have also been observed with regular use of Red Light Therapy.

How it Works:

To apply Red Light Therapy, place a device that emits infrared light 6 to 12 inches away from the body using an intensity anywhere between 600nmto 1300nm. Ten to twenty minutes of exposure is all the time you need and it can be used as frequently as three times per week for a quality response.

Although there have been several research papers published on Red Light Therapy, I have attached a popular one at the bottom of this blog post.

Give Red Light Therapy a try by adding it to your regular recovery routine as a post-training and even pre-sleep tool (grab a book before bed and place the device next to you as you read) and experience its benefits for yourself. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Training.

References:

  1. Marchi; Schmitt. Phototherapy for Improvement of Performance and Exercise Recovery: Comparison between three different devices commercially available. Journal of Athletic Training. 2016
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