We all know the feeling of DOMS - that dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness that hits you a day or two after a challenging workout. And as much as we could do without it, we know that it’s a sign our muscles are growing stronger.
When the muscles are damaged, they need time to repair themselves before they can become stronger. But that healing process takes time…time that could be spent exercising!
When you’re itching to return to the gym but want to be fully rested and healed, you’re probably looking for the secret clue to speed up the process. This answer might be easier and more accessible than you think: Near-Infrared Light Therapy.
Red light therapy can accelerate healing, all while reducing recovery time by optimizing mitochondrial activity. In short, there’ll be more blood flow to your muscles and less inflammation, so you can return to feeling great and doing what you do best.
Mitochondria: Your Body’s Powerhouse
So we now know that red light therapy helps to heal due to upping the number of mitochondria in your muscle tissues, but what exactly are mitochondria, and what do they do?
Well, without going too deep into high school biology, mitochondria are the small organelles found inside every cell in your body that generate the energy you need to function properly.
It plays a key role in preventing cell damage and maintaining overall health. Mitochondria are like superheroes for our insides, and they’re often dubbed the ‘powerhouses’ of the cells. Pretty cool!
For the athletes amongst us, having energy to power your muscles during exercise is of absolute necessity. If your mitochondria are not working properly, your performance will suffer, and you’ll have more difficulty recovering from your workouts - think more time away from your sport and more time trying to soothe your muscles, which are crying out for help.
With near-infrared light therapy, mitochondria are boosted to help your muscles recover to their full potential. It’s why you’ll see many athletes turning to red light therapy, as it promotes faster recovery and can help avoid getting injured in the first place.
What is Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)?
Adenosine triphosphate is a source of energy which supports and drives the processes in living cells.
Muscle contractions, as an example, are a result of ATP and its transferring of energy powers.
The chemical energy created and produced by the mitochondria is stored in ATP as it’s a small molecule that can be used as storage at the cellular level.
Once the mitochondria breaks down glucose and adds it to the adenosine triphosphate, this can be used like fuel for many other cellular processes. ATP is like a piggy bank for living cells!
How are ATP and Mitochondria connected?
Looking further into the relationship between ATP and mitochondria, we’ve outlined the process that happens each time they come into contact.
This takes place in the cell’s cytoplasm and involves glucose being converted into a molecule called pyruvate. This conversion results in a small net gain of ATP.
The pyruvate is then transported into the mitochondria to take the next steps.
Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle)
Pyruvate is broken down even further inside the mitochondria and combined with coenzyme A to form acetyl CoA - prompting the citric acid cycle.
This process releases electrons used in the final step and produces a small amount of ATP.
Electron Transport Chain (Oxidative Phosphorylation)
This is the stage where the majority of ATP is produced. The electrons generated in the previous steps then pump hydrogen ions across the inner mitochondrial membrane, creating an electrochemical gradient.
When these ions flow back across the membrane, they cause a molecular machine called ATP synthase to rotate, catalyzing the synthesis of ATP from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and a phosphate group.
Red Light Therapy Increases Energy Output From Mitochondria
When cells are under stress or in unhealthy conditions, they release free radicals that can damage their DNA. We explore this further in our blog post: Red Light Therapy: A Natural Way To Combat Oxidative Stress?.
These free radicals are known to affect mitochondrial functions and have a negative impact on overall health. Fortunately, we can counter the effects of free radicals through the use of red light therapy.
Medical studies have shown the therapeutic effects of red light have been proven to reduce oxidative stress and promote healthy cellular activity - including increasing the mitochondrial count, which then can successfully go through the stages of glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and the electron transport chain. This results in a positive connection between the mitochondria and ATP, with your body able to repair in the best way possible.
Not only that, but studies have shown that red light therapy can also improve mitochondrial function. The number of mitochondria in your muscles increases, but their performance is improved too. A double win!
If you want to improve your athletic performance and give yourself an edge over the competition, consider incorporating red light therapy into your training and recovery regimen.
Rest Helps Muscle Repair for Greater Training Strength
Let’s do a deep dive into why recovery and muscle repair are so important.
For starters, when we exercise, we tear muscle fibers. Just as you would have to rebuild a wall in your house after it comes tumbling down, we must rebuild the muscle fibers before we can use them again.
But if we never allow our bodies to rest and repair, this process cannot occur. Instead, the fibers break down even further, which can lead to some seriously debilitating injuries and potentially permanent damage too.
That’s why it’s crucial to give your body a break every now and then - to let it heal and recover, then you can be back fighting fit.
Although we know it’s tempting to keep pushing yourself harder and harder, remember that doing so will only delay your recovery and can set you back in terms of training and performance.
When recovering after a tough workout, give your body the time it needs to start rebuilding itself ahead of your next training session.
As an added bonus, this relaxation time will prevent injury and promote muscle growth, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your training, like mobility and proper nutrition.
Red Light Therapy Speeds Up Recovery By Increasing Blood Flow
Red light therapy improves blood flow in the muscles, speeds up the healing process, and helps reduce inflammation. In turn, this reduces pain and improves mobility.
This is because red light therapy can target the specific injured area with concentrated light waves, making the cellular energy in those tissues greater. With the use of near-infrared light therapy, mitochondria is encouraged to expand, further helping to repair the damaged muscle tissue.
The end result is a substantially reduced recovery time and an improved range of motion and function. This is great news for those of us who are constantly looking for new ways to improve recovery times so we can get back out on the field as quickly as possible.
Decrease Recovery Time and Get Stronger with Red Light Therapy
Over the last couple of decades, technological advancements have made red light therapy tools more accessible than ever before. This means you can now seamlessly introduce this powerful tool into your everyday routine.
Here at Kineon (formerly Reviiv Light), we have created a state-of-the-art red light therapy device that delivers maximum results in minimum time.
Our Move+ device means you can quickly treat your problem areas in just 15 minutes a day. Simply strap it on and deliver targeted light therapy right where you need it! It’s that easy.
And because we believe that the power of red light therapy should extend well beyond the four walls of treatment offices, our medical-grade devices are specifically designed to be portable, so you can take them wherever you go.
This way, you can get the benefits of red light therapy in the comfort of your own home whenever you want.
We also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee - either you see a boost in your athletic recovery or your money back! So why not give it a try and see how it works for you? Purchase your Move+ device here!
For more on sports performance and muscle recovery, read