How Does Red Light Therapy Impact Athletic Performance?

Low level light therapy (mostly red and near-infrared) is well known to stimulate mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is an organic compound that provides energy to drive processes in living cells, such as muscle contraction and nerve impulse propagation (de Freitas et al., 2016).


In layman’s terms, red and infrared light directly increases cellular energy!


As muscle cells have a high demand for energy, they have a large number of mitochondria to meet their energy needs (Carter et al, 2015). This suggests that low level light therapy has particularly beneficial effects on muscle cells, which directly translate into increase overall muscle energy and muscle performance (Ferraresi et al., 2012; Ferraresi et al., 2011).


Furthermore, the ability of Low level light therapy to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress is also beneficial for athletic performance as it leads to reduced fatigue and accelerate recovery after sports (Leal-Junior et al., 2015).


In fact, Low level light therapy can actually promote the gain of muscle mass after training, naturally boosting strength and overall muscle health (Halliwell et al., 2000, Ferraresi et al., 2016).


Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Low level light therapy can trigger nitric oxide release, which, in turn leads to increased blood flow blood (de Freitas et al., 2016). As blood circulation brings oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, the whole muscular system will work more efficiently, increasing overall performance.


In sum: increased cellular energy, decreased inflammation and oxidative stress, promotion of muscle mass gain, reduced fatigue, accelerated recovery, increased blood circulation with more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues = increased athletic performance.





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Ferraresi C, Bertucci D, Schiavinato J, et al. Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: Case-control Study with a Pair of Identical Twins. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Oct;95(10):746-57.


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Leal-Junior EC, Vanin AA, et al. Effect of phototherapy (low-level laser therapy and light-emitting diode therapy) on exercise performance and markers of exercise recovery: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Lasers in Medical Science. 2015 Feb;30(2):925-39.