Meta-Analysis: Does Photobiomodulation Increase Athletic Performance?

During a meta-analysis, researchers systematically assess a large body of previous research to draw conclusions about a certain topic. The topic of this meta-analysis? Photobiomodulation in human tissue.

Researchers wanted to know: how does PBM affect sports performance? What wavelengths are most effective? Is applying before or after exercise more effective?

Are you asleep yet? Stay with me because this is actually pretty cool.

Researchers analyzed 46 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, looking at both acute and chronic responses to PBM before and after exercise. Here's what they found:

ACUTE RESPONSE (immediate and up to 24 hours)

Pre-excercise photobiomodulation was found to increase number of reps in upper and lower limbs, and lower creatine kinase, C-reactive protein, and lactate levels in the blood in several studies. Some also looked at MVIC (maximum voluntary isometric contraction) as a measurement of muscle torque, and found that it improved IMMEDIATELY, and up to 24 hours after.

Post-exercise photobiomodulation was found to lower DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and decrease CK, lactate, and inflammatory markers in several studies. However, results were mixed whether it increased number of repetitions.

CHRONIC RESPONSE (after prolonged photobiomodulation treatment)

Both pre and post-excercise photobiomodulation were found to increase muscle thickness, maximum load for leg press, muscle hypertrophy, number or repetitions, and maximum torque. This is interesting because acute results for pre-exercise PBM were a lot more compelling than acute results for post-exercise PBM. With chronic use, it didn't matter whether researchers used PBM before or after exercise, the results were about the same.

Bullet Points for those in a hurry....

  • If you're only going to use PBM once or twice for performance enhancement, use it before exercise.

  • Chronic (prolonged) use of photobiomodulation is more effective than acute (one time use), because you get both the benefits of pre and post exercise PBM.

  • Infrared wavelengths (around 810) were more effective than red wavelengths (around 660)

  • 5 laser diodes cluster at 808-810 nanometers had a slight edge on red LED

What does this mean for our patients?

The analysis shows that Photobiomodulation gives you the most bang for your exercise buck, and that prolonged exposure to PBM increases muscle thickness and athletic performance. Our whole body pod offers the right wavelengths for enhanced athletic performance, at 810nm. And for a more concentrated treatment, we have a 5 laser diode cluster at 810nm as well!

At Advantage Therapy Solutions, we offer phototherapy in the exact parameters that were seen to be the most effective for athletic performance enhancement.

But, we already knew that.


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