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Peak Physical Performance using Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is popular in professional sports and the training & fitness worlds because it’s been proven again and again to enhance physical performance, build muscle, and speed up recovery.

This has been shown scientifically across hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical trials, and it’s shown anecdotally on fields and gyms, where NBA teams, UFC champions, Gold Medalists, and NFL All-Pros like Patrick Peterson, DeMarcus Lawrence, Julio Jones and Keenan Allen are using Red Light Therapy every day for peak performance and faster muscle recovery. The same is true of world-class trainers and fitness experts like Ben Greenfield, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne and many others.

This article breaks down the research and results on Red Light Therapy and enhanced physical performance. Find below a list of some of the pro athletes from the NBA, NFL and PGA that have used Red Light Therapy in their training and recovery programs.

Odell Beckham, Jr., Dwayne Wade, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones,

DeMarcus Lawrence, Phil Mickelson, Tyrann Mathieu, Bubba Watson,

Keenan Allen, Graeme McDowell, Devon Kennard, Zach Johnson

Huge Base of Clinical Research Shows Red Light Therapy Improves Physical Performance

Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have been published on red light therapy’s positive effects on exercise, training, and specific areas of physical performance like strength, speed, and endurance.

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.” [1]

Now, we’ll take a closer look at specific research showing how red light therapy boosts strength, speed, endurance, and muscle growth.

How Red Light Therapy Increases Strength

There’s a reason so many professional strength trainers are incorporating red light therapy into their routines.

Stronger Strength Training: A 2016 trial analyzed light therapy’s effects on men ages 18 to 35 who did strength training. Men in the light therapy group “showed significant changes” in max torque for both leg extension and leg press exercises.

Researchers concluded: “The application of phototherapy yields enhanced strength gains when it is applied before exercise. The application may have additional beneficial value in post-injury rehabilitation where strength improvements are needed.” [2]

In 2011, researchers testing light therapy and strength training on healthy young men concluded: “Strength training associated with light therapy can increase muscle performance compared with strength training only.” [3]

Stronger Legs: That aforementioned increase amounted to a 55% increase in leg-press tests, far higher than the non-therapy group. The men receiving light therapy were “the only group to show an increase in muscle performance in the isokinetic dynamometry test compared with baseline.” [3]

Stronger Grip: A placebo-controlled 2014 study found that red light therapy treatments significantly increased maximum repetitions of hand and grip exercises by 52%, as measured by an isokinetic dynamometer. [4] Numerous other studies have also shown significant grip strength increases during exercise after light therapy treatments. [5]

Is Red Light Therapy an "Unfair Competitive Advantage"?

One of the best strength trainers of all-time, the late great strength trainer Charles Poliquin, noted that he had all his clients using red light therapy for training performance, energy, and muscle recovery.

He also mentioned that people in the training and sports worlds have a new dilemma: red light therapy seems to be giving athletes an “unfair competitive advantage”—almost like a performance-enhancing drug, even though red light therapy is completely natural.

Advantage? Yes! Unfair or unnatural? Definitely not.

Are You Ready for Red Light?

Professional sports franchises and elite athletes use Red Light Therapy because it works at the highest levels of physical competition. And the clinical record shows that red light therapy leads to performance and recovery gains for all kinds of ages and body types, from elite athletes to weekend warriors, to anyone looking to achieve or sustain an active lifestyle.

If you’re trying to recover from injuries, minimize pain, perform at your best, and sleep better, red light therapy can work for you too.

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