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Red Light Therapy for Sports Injuries

Whether it’s a twisted ankle or tweaked shoulder, sports injuries can sideline you from the activities you love for weeks, if not months. There’s no replacement for visiting a doctor or physical therapist for these injuries, but there are a few ways to speed up the healing process and get back to the gym, basketball court, or lap lane in less time.

Red light therapy is a cutting-edge, non-invasive solution that takes a gentler approach to injury recovery. It’s gained a lot of traction in the sports medicine world, giving athletes yet another avenue to speed up recovery times.

But what is red light therapy, and why is it a go-to treatment for fitness enthusiasts? In this guide, we’ll break down how red light therapy benefits sports injuries and explain the treatment process in detail.

Understanding sports injuries

Sports injuries are incredibly common. In 2022, over 3.6 million people visited the ER for injuries related to recreation, including cycling, basketball, and other forms of exercise. From marathon enthusiasts to professional kickboxers, every athlete is prone to a range of sports injuries. 

Some of the most common injuries include:

  • ACL tears
  • Sprained ankles
  • Tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Fractures

All injuries have unique challenges that affect performance and, in some cases, overall health. For example, a sprain can temporarily reduce your mobility for up to six weeks, while a severe injury like an ACL tear could put you out of the game for a year or more. 

Quick and efficient recovery isn’t just about getting back to working out; it’s about ensuring your body heals correctly to prevent future complications and injuries. Without proper treatment, what starts as a minor issue can escalate, leading to chronic problems—or, worse, ending a promising sports career prematurely.

Most sports injury treatments involve some form of pain relief, usually with anti-inflammatory medications. After the initial healing period, your doctor might refer you to physical therapy (PT) to restore movement and function. 

No matter how you look at it, this is a long, drawn-out process that takes weeks or months. For athletes who are obsessed with improving their form and performance, this time away from working out is almost as excruciating as the injury itself. That’s why more and more athletes are looking for alternative treatments, like red light therapy, to improve their recovery times. 

What is red light therapy?

Red light therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses low-level wavelengths of red light to treat the skin. This safe but concentrated application of a specific wavelength of light, usually ranging from 630-660 nanometers (red light) to 810-850 nanometers (near-infrared light), penetrates the skin to stimulate cells. Red light reaches through the skin’s outer layer, while near-infrared light can go more deeply into the muscles, nerves, and bones. 

Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a crucial part of red light therapy that makes it an effective complementary treatment for sports injuries. With this treatment, you expose your body to infrared and near-infrared light. This exposure strengthens the mitochondria in the cells, helping them produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy required for various bodily functions. In essence, PBM provides cells with more energy to function efficiently, heal wounds, and repair damage.

Unlike some forms of light therapy, red and infrared light therapy don’t damage the skin. This non-invasive approach reduces the risk of side effects, making it a much more viable option for regular use than other forms of light therapy, like laser treatments. 

5 benefits of infrared light therapy for athletes and sports injuries

Red light therapy, and particularly infrared treatment, has a range of benefits for anyone looking to speed up injury recovery. While it can’t replace traditional medical treatment, many athletes have daily or weekly red light sessions to support healthy recovery. 

1. Support muscle repair

While you’ll still be out of commission for a while, regular red light treatments aid in cellular repair and regeneration, potentially speeding up the healing process. Therapy increases blood circulation to the injured area, which delivers more oxygen and nutrients essential for muscle repair. A 2015 study of near-infrared light found that, while modest, there was a measurable improvement in skeletal muscle function with red light treatment.

2. Reduce inflammation and swelling

Inflammation is an immune response to an injury that floods the affected area with resources to rebuild and repair the injury. In most cases, inflammation and swelling are necessary for healing an injury. However, too much inflammation can lead to pain and longer recovery times. Infrared light therapy reduces swelling by promoting lymphatic activity, which removes edema (excess fluid) from the injury, reducing discomfort. 

Painful swelling can be a sign of complications in the healing process, though. See your doctor if you’re worried about persistent swelling or pain.

3. Speed up injury recovery

Athletes have a hard time staying away from the activities they love. If you’re trying to get back to training ASAP, consider red light therapy for sports injuries. This therapy’s ability to stimulate ATP production plays a vital role in tissue healing. By enhancing cellular energy, infrared light therapy speeds up the healing process of tendons, ligaments, and muscles. A study of 395 injuries found that light treatments sped up recovery by nearly 10 days compared to athletes who didn’t receive the treatments.

4. Pain relief

Pain keeps you away from regular activities and interferes with your life. Infrared light therapy can provide substantial pain relief by triggering the release of endorphins and blocking pain-transmitting chemicals. It also helps in reducing inflammation, which is often the source of pain.

However, if you’re experiencing regular pain or discomfort, chat about other pain management options with your doctor.

5. Improve performance

Keep in mind that red light therapy isn’t just for when you’re injured. It accelerates muscle repair, making this ideal for any athlete with muscle damage from intense physical activity. In fact, a 2016 study found that light treatments increased muscle mass and reduced oxidative stress—so much so that the paper’s authors questioned whether photobiomodulation should be allowed in competitive athletics. 

Infrared light therapy is a great way to mitigate post-exercise soreness and stiffness. It relaxes muscles and reduces inflammation, helping you get into the recovery phase more quickly. Red light therapy can also improve circulation, assisting in both recovery and muscle oxygenation for improved athletic performance. 

Our Approach to Red Light Therapy

You don’t need to buy a pricey light panel for your bedroom to try red light therapy for sports injuries. Krysus HP’s professional Novothor® whole-body red light pods make it a cinch to get professional-grade light therapy affordably and in less time. Some clients visit every day for treatment, but many see results with as little as one visit a week.

Infrared and red light therapy pods temporarily improve blood circulation and pain relief in just 20 minutes a day. Best of all, you get to treat your entire body, which gives you additional benefits like improved joint range of motion and clearer skin.

If you’ve never tried red light therapy before, now’s the time to try. Here’s a breakdown of how the process works at Krysus HP.

Book a session

To get started, book a PBM Light Therapy session online with Krysus. Choose the time and date for a 30-minute slot. If you don’t have one already, create an account to manage your booking online. You can also call Krysus at (210)-600-4093 to chat with our customer service team. This is usually the easiest option if you’re booking therapy sessions for multiple people at one time.

Prepare

You’ll need to do a few things to prepare before your session. For one, make sure your doctor has cleared you for red light treatment. It’s incredibly safe and low-risk, but people with skin conditions, like severe eczema, might not be good candidates for red light therapy. You also need to be able to get in and out of the light therapy pod unassisted, which could be tricky with very recent injuries. 

We recommend hydrating and eating a light snack before your session. Avoid caffeine or alcohol beforehand so your body is in peak condition. Some people prefer to do red light therapy nude, while others prefer to wear a bathing suit or underwear. Regardless of your preference, remember to pack anything you might need to be comfortable during your session.

Enjoy red light therapy

We recommend arriving at your first red light therapy session at least 15 minutes ahead of your appointment time. This gives us time to give you a tour of the facility, complete paperwork, and answer questions. 

When it’s time for your treatment, the Krysus staff will lead you to your private red light therapy room. Similarly to a tanning bed, you lie down in the pod for 20 minutes for a full-body treatment. You’re free to exit the pod or take breaks at any time. Krysus staff will let you know when the session is up. From there, you get dressed and go about your day!

Relief starts with your first treatment

Red light therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and inflammation, especially for sports injuries. While it can’t guarantee medical miracles, it can expedite the healing process, reduce soreness, and provide some pain relief—all without the need for drugs or invasive procedures. Boost the recovery process with red light therapy for sports injuries, getting back to the activities you love doing in less time. 

Krysus HP’s low-level laser and infrared light therapy offers safe, personalized care for all clients, whether you’re a pro athlete or a casual tennis player. 

See the difference firsthand: Book your first red light therapy session now.