Being an athlete is tough on our bodies, there's no doubt about it. And the resilience an athlete must have mentally, physically, and emotionally goes far beyond the field or court. After long practices, strenuous conditioning, and competing for hours, our bodies are screaming for rest and recovery. Recovery is not just essential for our next performance but for our long-term health. This is where red light therapy comes into play.
We spoke with peak performance coach and VIS Expert Paige Roberts, Ph. D, a psychotherapist, who has used photo modulation for the past eight years and has seen “amazing recoveries and expansive results.”
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM), involves directing wavelengths of light from an LED light source to a body part to stimulate, heal, and even regenerate damaged tissue. The light goes deep within the skin to kickstart tissue recovery, stimulating your mitochondria and increasing cellular health.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Applying red light to your body has a variety of benefits, including pain relief, reducing inflammation, decreasing sports injury recovery time, increasing focus, aiding sleep, and can even slow down our aging process. Red and infrared light can get deep within joints and tissues, increasing circulation, oxygenation, and cellular repair. Athletes who use light therapy before or after working out experience less muscle soreness, faster post-workout recovery, and increased gains.
Red light therapy can also help your brain. Applied directly to your brain causes an increase in serotonin and dopamine, which can decrease depression and anxiety. This is super beneficial for overpowering the obstacles and mental barriers we face in our athletic and personal lives. Increases in circulation to the brain while using red light increase the oxygen to the brain, giving your brain a full detox. This has been seen to decrease post-concussion symptoms, sharpen focus, and elevate brain-body communication.
How to Use Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy devices with more power are more effective at energizing your cells, meaning you will get the most out of a red light therapy session. The most powerful devices are often found at in-office treatments but for student athletes, a home therapy device can more than get the job done. (JOOVV has some great options.) Handheld RLT devices are the most common way to administer red light therapy, allowing you to move it to different body parts. You can also try red light pads, which wrap around larger areas like your legs or arms.
To figure out what’s best for you, ask your athletic trainer or connect with one of our VIS Experts.
The best part of red light therapy? Research shows there are no harmful effects, even with daily use. While daily use is ideal for the best results, you can begin to reap the benefits from as little as one session. Dr. Roberts recommends at least 20 minutes of RLT a day for optimal recovery.
Using it before bed can help you fall asleep and would be an ideal way to implement this into your daily recovery routine. You can apply photobiomodulation before and after competition or as soon as you start to feel pain from overuse or endure an injury. The beauty of this type of therapy is it is very individual-based, so you have the flexibility to use it on any part of your body whenever you choose!