Feel that ache? The annoying pain in your ankle or the burning in your shoulders after hours of doing cool jumps or holding positions? Winning in gymnastics or dance can be awesome, but it often comes with a reminder – pain.
It's not just regular soreness; it's like a little voice saying, "Are you sure you won't get hurt?" So, you practice more, stretch more, and go through the discomfort just to keep the skill, elegance, and joy that made you love this activity.
But what if there's a way? A way to heal your injuries, recover your muscles, and do your thing without the constant pain hanging over you? That's where Red light therapy comes in-it helps you perform at your best and recover easily.
Curious? Get ready and read this article to know how this therapy might make sports easier and let you celebrate without hurting.
Understanding the Struggles of Gymnasts and Dancers
Gymnasts and dancers put their bodies through a lot. The jumps, spins, and flips might look cool, but they come with a cost. Every move carries a risk, and they need to be super careful to avoid injuries that could slow them down. Some common injuries with which gymnasts and athletes suffer are the following:
- Muscle tension
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Ankle instability
- Muscle imbalances
- Sprains and strains
- Postural issues
Why do gymnasts and dancers push themselves so much? It's all about wanting to be better. To stay at the top, athletes give up comfort and work hard. They go through sore muscles, ignore the tiredness, and push through discomfort. They require stamina, strength, stability, and energy to perform repetitively and avoid injury. Here, red light therapy is the only thing that can make things better for you!
Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Gymnasts and Dancers
Red light therapy can protect artistic athletes' overall health, help reduce pain, counter inflammation, increase performance, and improve stability, so you can continue performing at your best. Read on to know the benefits that red light therapy holds for you!
Red light therapy helps your body recover from microscopic tears in muscle fibers, a normal and necessary aspect of building muscle tissue and improving exercise performance. A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology shows that using low-level laser therapy before exercise reduces muscle damage markers. And lower levels of those muscle damage markers indicate that your body requires less time to recover after a workout.
Aside from reducing muscle damage, studies have also shown that including red light therapy in a post-workout routine can speed up muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness, muscle strength loss, and range of motion impairments for up to 96 hours after exercise.
Injury Healing and Faster Recovery
Strong scientific evidence shows that red light therapy can increase oxygenated blood flow, decrease inflammation, and heal injuries, resulting in faster recovery. Ongoing studies show it can even stimulate cartilage regrowth. Red light therapy works by improving microcirculation and perfusion in injured tissues through vasodilation and angiogenesis. In other words, PBM increases oxygenated blood flow, which brings nutrients to the affected tissue and thus accelerates the healing process.
Enhanced Joints Flexibility and Mobility
Gymnasts and dancers need to be able to move their bodies through a full range of motion to achieve the perfect swing. Besides the above benefits, red light therapy can help improve joint mobility and flexibility in these athletes. Reducing inflammation can help reduce stiffness in tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints, thus increasing the range of motion in the joints affected.
Red light therapy for inflammation is a powerful tool for relieving your symptoms. It can penetrate deep into the skin, stimulating cellular activity and thus activating anti-inflammatory responses. This is an excellent treatment option for athletes suffering from tendonitis or muscle strains. Another key advantage is that low-level light therapy has been shown to promote collagen production, an important component of connective tissues, thereby promoting tissue repair and recovery. Numerous clinical trials have found that red light therapy can treat muscle soreness and exercise-related inflammation and pain.
Stored ATP and your body's ability to regenerate ATP play a key role in optimal muscle endurance. When you run out of ATP while performing, your muscles lose their ability to contract effectively, leading to fatigue. Red light therapy boosts mitochondrial function and ATP production to ensure more ATP is available for your muscle cells to tap into. A systematic review published in Lasers in Medical Science indicated that phototherapy improves muscular performance and speeds up recovery mainly when applied before exercise. Another study done in exercise-trained mice found that light-emitting diode therapy increases ATP availability, delays fatigue, and improves endurance performance.
According to recent research, one potential benefit of red light therapy is that it can effectively manage pain. It increases blood flow which means more oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells can reach the affected areas of the body. As a result, it helps reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation in joints and tissue. Free from harmful chemicals and the risk of dependency, this therapy is a natural method of healing your body from the inside out. Red light therapy uniquely treats the underlying condition, enhancing tissue repair and performance and allowing your body to work at an optimal level of health and wellness.
Mental and Emotional Well-being
Findings across several studies show that NIR therapy shows incredible promise in enhancing cognitive functioning and supporting healing from TBI, stroke, or neurodegenerative disorders. A fascinating study by University of Texas researchers found that red light therapy also enhances mental health and is responsible for focused attention, impulse control, setting and achieving goals, predicting, planning, and coordinating sequences of actions. In a similar study, anxiety and depression patients who received red light showed improvements in cognitive performance and fewer PTSD symptoms.
The use of red light is a well-researched method of visible light therapy with many beneficial effects for gymnasts and dancers. When used intelligently, an athlete can reap rewards through better sleep, performance, and tissue recovery. More research is needed, but what we know points towards the conclusion that proper use of red light therapy can lead to significant athletic outcomes in a shorter timeframe than training alone.
 Baroni, B.M., Leal Junior, E.C.P., De Marchi, T. et al. (2010). Low-level laser therapy before eccentric exercise reduces muscle damage markers in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol 110, 789–796. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1562-z
 Hamblin, M. R. (2018). Mechanisms and Mitochondrial Redox Signaling in Photobiomodulation. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 94(2), 199-212. https://doi.org/10.1111/php.12864
 Schiffer, F., Johnston, A. L., Ravichandran, C., Polcari, A., Teicher, M. H., Webb, R. H., & Hamblin, M. R. (2009). Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near-infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Behavioral and brain functions: BBF, 5, 46. https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-9081-5-46
 Barrett, D. W., & Gonzalez-Lima, F. (2013). Transcranial infrared laser stimulation produces beneficial cognitive and emotional effects in humans. Neuroscience, 230, 13–23.
 Gavish, L., Hoffer, O., Rabin, N., Halak, M., Shkilevich, S., Shayovitz, Y., Weizman, G., Haim, O., Gavish, B., Gertz, S. D., & Ovadia-Blechman, Z. (2020). Microcirculatory Response to Photobiomodulation-Why Some Respond and Others Do Not: A Randomized Controlled Study. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 52(9), 863-872. https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.23225
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