The Future of Red Light Therapy for Athletes - MitoPERFORM

Posted July 19, 2021

           Mito Red Light is very excited to announce our new MitoPERFORM series! This new line of red light therapy devices is designed specifically to enhance physical and athletic performance while simultaneously promoting muscle recovery.

            Based on the latest breakthroughs in red light therapy technologies, our new MitoPERFORM products feature red light panels that consist of 40% 810nm light. This 810nm light consists of a specific wavelength of infrared light that has been found by researchers to be very impactful on physical performance.

            The 810nm light that the MitoPERFORM series employs is able to penetrate far deeper into tissues than many other wavelengths of visible lights, enabling it to better reach an individual’s muscles and joints. The MitoPERFORM series has many potential applications for promoting professional athletic performance, but can also be used by those wanting to improve their overall physical performance for personal reasons.

            In addition to having well-researched properties affecting physical performance, 810nm infrared light also has been studied for improving cognitive function, both in healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions, such as dementia. This research has indicated promise, offering potential benefits for cognitive health in addition to physical well-being.

Scientific Applications

            There has been a large amount of research into red light therapy and how it has the potential to improve physical performance. The MitoPERFORM series is designed to enhance physical performance in several ways based on the most current red light research.

Overview

            Red light therapy is a newer therapy that gained mainstream acceptance after NASA discovered that exposure to red light could enhance the healing of skin lesions. NIH-funded research has since posited that the effects of red light therapy are primarily due to the enhanced function that it provides mitochondria. Mitochondria are an important organ of the cells that regulate cell energy production and play an important part in many intracellular processes.

            The foundational science of phototherapy that red light therapy is built on has been well established. Ultraviolet light is used in NICUs around the world to treat newborns with jaundice, and specific wavelengths of light are known to stimulate the production of vitamin D, an essential nutrient. While it is well established that light being absorbed by the body can improve health in a variety of ways, red light therapy is an expanding area of research and application in this field.

Reduction of Exercise-Induced Muscle Fatigue

            One of the potential benefits of the wavelengths of light used in the MitoPERFORM series is the reduction of exercise-induced muscle fatigue. Exercise-induced muscle fatigue is defined as the recoverable decrease in force that a muscle produces during exercise. The reduced ability to generate force that develops during exercise decreases the quality of performance and reduces endurance.

            Multiple studies have shown an increased resistance to muscle fatigue when using red light therapy. One study using the primary wavelength of light used by the MitoPERFORM series showed that, when compared against a placebo, this therapy improved resistance to muscle fatigue in multiple muscle groups. Another study found that a wavelength of light used in the MitoPERFORM panels delayed the onset of skeletal muscle fatigue, even in the presence of elevated blood lactate levels.

Reduction of Muscle Damage Markers

            Activity-related muscle injuries are a risk that any athlete must consider. Statistics show that millions of sports-related injuries occur each year, highlighting how essential it is that athletes take careful steps to protect their physical health while engaged in physical activity.

            A notable study reviewing the effects of red light therapy found that using red light therapy before and after exercise significantly reduced changes in muscle echo intensity caused by exercise. Muscle echo intensity is a change that occurs in the muscle that is measured using an ultrasound exam. Changes in muscle echo muscle intensity are associated with decreased muscle power and increased risk of muscle damage.

            Another research article found that using red light therapy created a small increase in lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase levels when compared to a placebo control group. These two blood markers are connected with muscle damage, and the suppression of the two blood markers indicates decreased muscle damage.

Benefits for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness        

            Delayed onset muscle soreness is muscle soreness that typically begins one to two days after exercise, particularly when activity is being significantly increased. There is no single explanation for what causes delayed onset muscle soreness, although many hypotheses have been proposed. Delayed onset muscle soreness has the potential to be very disruptive to an athlete’s training schedule and affect long-term performance planning.

            A 2006 study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery provided evidence showing that exposure to phototherapy using infrared and red light wavelengths provided beneficial effects to those who could experience delayed onset muscle soreness. The MitoPERFORM panels use one of the main wavelengths employed in the study, offering the potential for delayed onset muscle soreness benefits that can enhance overall long-term performance.

Acceleration of Post-Exercise Recovery

            While the MitoPERFORM series includes a heavy emphasis on 810nm light, it also includes other red and infrared wavelengths, including 20% 630nm light. An important study exploring the effects of red light therapy found that using 630nm light immediately after exercise had significant post-exercise recovery effects. “Our results showed that the muscle soreness, muscle strength loss, and [range of motion] impairments were significantly reduced up to 96 [hours] after a damaging eccentric exercise bout,” researchers wrote.

            Another study used a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial to demonstrate that infrared light suppressed creatine kinase levels and caused blood lactate levels to return to normal quickly. This provides insights into how red light therapy may promote a more rapid post-exercise recovery.

Improved Maximal Exercise Tolerance

            An important research article used another of the wavelengths included in the MitoPERFORM series, 850nm light, to show that infrared light therapy improved maximal exercise tolerance during high-intensity exercise. Improved exercise tolerance promotes endurance and may even lead to improvements in peak performance.

Demonstrated Benefits For Athletes

            The technology behind the MitoPERFORM series has been used to enhance the performance of athletes. Many different aspects of these enhancements have been studied in many different sports. There are several studies that focus on athletes in general, like a 2016 study that showed a return to play time for university athletes that was over nine days shorter when phototherapy was used. There are also, however, several studies that involve a specific field of athletics.

Volleyball

            The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy published research studying the effects of 810nm wavelength light on volleyball players. The researchers that published in this prestigious journal found that the use of this therapy focused on the biceps of players both “increased endurance for repeated elbow flexion against resistance and decreased post-exercise levels of blood lactate, creatine kinase, and C-reactive protein.”

Rugby

            A randomized, crossover, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, examined the effect of red light therapy on a group of high-level rugby players. The researchers found that phototherapy “can enhance performance and accelerate recovery of high-level rugby players in field tests.”

Water Polo

            An article published in Lasers in Medical Science described research using 810nm infrared light that was used to evaluate the effects of five consecutive days of phototherapy. The researcher reported finding, “small to moderate effect on inflammatory and muscle damage markers and a moderate effect on performance in water polo players.”

Competitive Cycling

            Competitive cycling is one of the more well-studied sports to use red light therapy. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that phototherapy “increased time to exhaustion in competitive cyclists, suggesting this intervention as a possible nonpharmacological ergogenic agent in cycling.” A study published three months later suggested that this effect was due to a decreased oxygen deficit in cyclists that received red light therapy.

Soccer

            A randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, published in 2019 in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, studied the effects of phototherapy using infrared lights on high-level soccer players. The researcher found that the therapy “seems to play an important antioxidant effect, decreasing exercise-induced oxidative stress and consequently enhancing athletic performance and improving post-exercise recovery.”

Ethical Considerations

            While red light therapy-based performance has shown promise for athletes in a variety of fields, there is some emerging controversy about how regulators should consider this newer form of therapy.

            Researchers from the Harvard Medical School; the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital; and the Universidade do Sagrado Coração recently published a collaborative article in the Journal of Biophotonics. In this article, researchers raised the question of whether red light therapy performance enhancement should be permitted in athletic competition by international regulatory authorities.

            While there is some debate about if the performance-enhancing technology available in the MitoPERFORM series should be used by professional athletes, there is not yet any formal movement to prohibit its use in professional sports. Unlike performance-enhancing drugs, red light therapy focuses on naturally stimulating the cell’s energy centers without any artificial chemicals. Testing whether an athlete has used red light therapy is also almost impossible, making any future regulations far more complicated to enforce.

MitoPERFORM series

            Mito Red Light is proud to offer our well-researched, cutting edge red light specifically for athletes. The MitoPERFORM series leverages the power of the specific wavelengths that have been found to benefit athletes the most and is designed to augment your athletic experience. If you are interested in learning more about our new MitoPERFORM products, check them out HERE or contact Mito Red Professional Services at 1-480-900-7575 or support@mitoredlight.com.