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Red light therapy for muscle recovery and athletic performance.

Updated on 02/12/2023

Good news! You do not have to be a professional athlete to benefit from the muscles enhancing benefits of red light therapy. Learn about how you can use red light therapy before and after your workouts. Unsure what red and infrared light therapy is or why it should be a cornerstone in your training regimen? Let’s take a closer look below.

Devon Levesque using his Vital Red Light following a workout.
In This Article
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    Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Muscle Recovery and Performance

    Red light therapy works by stimulating your body’s natural self-healing process which plays an important role in your muscle health, athletic performance, and muscle recovery. Because red light therapy works by increasing blood flow and stimulating cell regeneration, athletes are able to speed up the recovery process along with increasing strength prior to working out.

    Recent clinical studies have shown red and near-infrared light therapy can repair muscle, enhance athletic performance, and aid in the recovery process following a workout or injury. Red light therapy can also help the body get more benefits from exercise, both in terms of muscle gain and fat loss. There is also research showing that red and near-infrared light may help prevent muscle loss that occurs with aging.

    How Does Red Light Therapy Work for Muscle Recovery and Muscle Growth?

    Red and near-infrared wavelengths from a light therapy device stimulate mitochondria. Science has proven that these wavelengths of light cause your mitochondria to produce more energy (in the form of ATP). ATP provides the fuel that each cell needs to carry out all of its functions, including regeneration and healing.

    Muscle tissue has more mitochondria than any other place in the body because it is used to power all sorts of movement. This means that your muscle tissue is particularly responsive to high doses of red and infrared light therapy. By stimulating the production of ATP, the energy currency of cells, red light therapy can help cells perform their functions more efficiently. This can lead to a wide range of systemic health benefits, from improved skin health to reduced inflammation, enhanced muscle recovery, and increased athletic performance.

    Muscle Fatigue, Strength and Endurance, Recovery, and Weight Loss

    Some of the benefits offered by red light and infrared light therapies should be obvious from the information above, so we will break down the main benefits below.

    • Muscle Fatigue: Fatigue often occurs when you are training at a high level. Over time, you become fatigued because of a buildup of toxins in your body and experience soreness, pain, weakness, and cramping. Red light therapy can be used to combat muscle fatigue improving oxygenation, nutrient delivery, toxin removal, and cellular healing.
    • Muscular Strength & Endurance: Muscle strength and stamina is a must for every high performing athlete. Red light therapy energizes your body’s cells, giving you the ability to do more for longer periods of time. Red and near-infrared light make your cells capable of more growth and faster recovery.
    • Recovery: Proper recovery is a must for any high performer. Red light and near-infrared light support your body’s ability to recover and even speed up recovery time. That means you experience less downtime, less pain, less stiffness, and more gains.
    • Weight Loss: Red and infrared light has even shown to stimulate your body’s ability to burn calories. Cellular growth and healing require energy, and higher activity levels mean your cells demand more energy. This helps increase fat loss in response to exercise.

    Clinical Study: Muscle and Injury Recovery 

    Red light therapy has been shown to reduce injury recovery time and the return-to-play period of athletes, including a study in which the US track team experienced a 50% reduction in recovery time from 19.23 to 9.6 days.  In addition to improving injury recovery time, red light therapy has also been shown to enhance muscle recovery time and physical performance. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that when red light therapy was combined with exercise, it resulted in over a 50% increase in muscle thickness and strength, as measured by ultrasound imaging and isokinetic dynamometry.

    Clinical studies on using red light for muscle recovery

    Recent clinical studies have shown that red and near-infrared light therapy can repair muscle, enhance athletic performance, and aid in the recovery process following workouts or injury. In 2015, researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of many of these randomized, placebo-controlled trials. The results were overwhelmingly positive:

    • The vast majority of clinical trials reviewed showed “significant improvement for the main measures related to performance” like max repetitions, speed, and endurance.
    • Time before exhaustion during various exercises “increased significantly compared to placebo.”
    • Researchers concluded that “phototherapy (with lasers and LEDs) improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery when applied before exercise.”
    • A 2016 trial analyzed light therapy’s effects on men ages 18 to 35 performing strength training. People in the light therapy group “showed significant changes” in max torque for both leg extension and leg press exercises. 

    How to use red light therapy for muscle recovery and performance

    Study after study has shown red light therapy’s ability to prevent muscle soreness and speed muscle recovery during exercise all while increasing performance and sleep quality. Red light has a powerful effect on tissue that is just beneath the skin, including muscle, bone, and connective tissue (such as in the hands, feet, knees, neck, and ankles). While near-infrared light absorbs into deeper tissues and can therapeutically affect large muscle groups that are just out of reach of shorter-wavelength red light.

    Use red or near-infrared (NIR) therapy alone or in combination for 3-5 minutes immediately prior to exercise to precondition the muscles and prevent injury.

    Immediately after exercise, bathe muscles in red or NIR light for 10-20 minutes to accelerate recovery. To achieve the best results, use a combination of red and near-infrared light wavelengths both before and after your workouts.

    Conclusion: Wrapping it all up. Red Light Therapy for Muscle Recovery

    Red light therapy is becoming increasingly popular among endurance and professional athletes. Whether you are looking to rejuvenate your skin, reduce inflammation and pain, aid muscle recovery, or give your mood a boost, we have a range of red light therapy home devices at Vital Red Light that you can purchase worry-free.

    When choosing a red light device for your muscle recovery, you want to know that you are buying from a trusted source. At Vital Red Light, we pride ourselves on our effective devices, and we have complete confidence that you will love the product you receive. Our devices use medical-grade 5-watt LED lights and are FDA cleared.

    For your reassurance, each device comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ordering yours today. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact. You can also read our customer testimonials and pro athlete reviews to discover more about what our customers think about our products.

    Looking to take your athletic performance to the next level? Consider using red light therapy to help reduce muscle soreness, inflammation, and pain while supporting muscle recovery and blood flow. 


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