Optimal Performance, Recovery, and Light Therapy

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In training and athletics, you often hear about “optimizing performance” and improving the recovery process. In this article, we’ll talk about what it actually means to optimize your fitness and recovery. We’ll explain how you can get started with tips to improve recovery and performance, and explain why recovery is important for everyone (not just athletes). We’ll also break down how and why light therapy is used by professional trainers and athletes to support peak performance, muscle health, and recovery.

What Does it Mean to Optimize Performance and Recovery?

Optimizing performance and recovery means trying to maximize the effectiveness of your body’s natural healing processes, so you can stay in the best shape possible and enhance your workout or daily activities. It means giving your body the tools and ingredients it needs to do its many jobs as efficiently as possible. On a practical level, optimizing performance requires you to pay close attention to your body and its functions and live and train in a way that best supports those functions. In other words, how well you perform at the gym is the product of how you live your life and train, how you eat and drink and sleep, not just how hard you push while you’re lifting weights.

Recovery is one of the Foundations of Physical Performance

Recovery and performance go hand in hand. To improve fitness, it pays to work out consistently. To get bigger, stronger, and faster, you have to gradually push your body to higher levels of performance [1,2]. That’s always been the biggest focus of exercise and training. The recovery process—the down time between training sessions, or time for an injury to heal—is essential for staying healthy as you work out. Cooling down, resting, and getting good sleep between workouts gives your body time to replenish its energy reserves and heal muscle and tissue damage. Recovery time helps you come back from acute soreness and inflammation, so you can perform better. Recovery also helps prevent fatigue and injuries, so you can stay healthier over time, avoid chronic problems, and improve longevity [3].

Without prioritizing recovery, it’s almost impossible to maintain peak physical performance. This is why so many athletes and trainers have made recovery a top priority. “Recovery is your edge,” says Dr. Ara Suppiah, one of the world’s leading sports doctors. “Most athletes are wired to train, to push through despite not feeling great. And yet, if you recover better than your competitors, you can train harder and compete for longer. It’s what will separate you from the competition.”/

Check out more of the elite pro athletes, trainers, and sports medicine experts who use Joovv light therapy for recovery and performance here.

Recovery is Important for Everyone, Not Just Athletes

Recovery isn’t just an advantage for athletes though. Everyone should pay attention to how their body rests and heals and give themselves time to recover from strain and inflammation [4]. What works for athletes and trainers can also help professionals, busy parents, or seniors trying to maintain activity levels. Though they may not train or play sports, all of these people put big demands on their bodies every day and need to recover to keep performing well. Everyone can benefit from paying closer attention to their health and lifestyle and how it relates to their muscles, inflammation, and recovery.

The Dangers of Not Recovering Properly

Overtraining and pushing your body too hard can severely limit your performance in the short and long term. Whether you’re an athlete or an everyday achiever, your body has limits, and you’ll start to break down and perform worse when you push those limits without letting your body recover. You’re more likely to suffer injuries when you don’t recover, and you can also negatively affect your hormone levels and immune system. [4] You also need to give your body time to process inflammation.

Recovery and Inflammation

When you’ve exerted yourself with a strenuous workout, your body is going to respond with its natural inflammatory process. Inflammation is a complex process, essentially your body’s programmed response to danger or strain. With exercise, inflammation responds to muscle damage. The term “damage” makes it sound dangerous, but light muscle damage is how muscle tissue grows: microtears from exercise and growth are repaired in order for muscle tissues to get stronger [4].

The acute inflammation you experience when you exercise is part of this normal process of growth and repair. If you don’t recover properly after workouts, or don’t fully heal from an injury or strain, that acute inflammation can become chronic over time and limit your performance. [4] It’s a vicious cycle if your body and cells are out of balance, always trying to recover and heal from injuries while taking on new damage and strain. Check out this article to learn more about the basics of inflammation.

How to Improve Your Body’s Recovery Process

Today, there’s more focus on recovery than ever before, and more products, methods, and theories about recovery than ever before. Ultimately, most of them are no substitute for sound health and fitness fundamentals. If you’re serious about improving your fitness and/or focusing more on your body’s recovery, start with these tried and true strategies:

Listen to your Body: When you train and compete, it’s important to pay attention to the signals your body is sending. Competitive people who want to improve often overlook these signs and push forward, which risks injuries and fatigue from overtraining. If you’re feeling unusual pain or soreness in a specific area, it’s worth paying attention and giving your body time to address the problem.

You should also pay attention to your heart rate and the variability of your heart rate (HRV), a measure of the change in time between each heartbeat. Lower HRV is associated with poor fitness, mood, and increased risk of disease. A higher HRV indicates better cardiovascular fitness and more resilience to stress. HRV is a good way to check how well your lifestyle and level of movement are supporting your heart health. [5]

Prioritize Sleep: The best thing you can do for your body’s recovery is get good, restful sleep every night. Deep, REM sleep gives your body the time to digest, process fat, clear out inflammation, and repair damaged tissues [6]. If you’re not getting 7+ hours of good sleep every night, it will be more difficult for your body to come back from pain, strain, fatigue, and injury [6]. One way to improve your sleep is to align your lifestyle and nighttime routine with healthy circadian rhythms. To read more about the importance of sleep, and how your light intake plays a big role, check out this article.

Get the Blood Flowing: Good circulation is essential for proper healing, whether it’s an injury or the inflammation and strain that comes with working out and training. Red blood cells transported to injuries carry oxygen, which stimulates the creation of new blood vessels and helps to form new skin and tissues at the damaged site. Blood flow is also crucial for the body's natural inflammatory response. When our bodies are injured or infected, the circulatory system transports white blood cells to the site. Part of the inflammatory response is the dilation of blood vessels so blood can flow more rapidly to the problem area. [7] How you sit, how you move, and when you eat (and drink) all impact your blood flow. Check out this post on circulation to learn more about how you can improve blood flow, and why that’s important.

Eat Real Food: Like sleep, diet is a pillar of good health, and plays a big role in how well you perform and recover. Supporting your body with a balanced diet of whole foods and a minimum of processed foods is one of the most reliable ways to help your body work better, and recover from damage faster [8].

Optimize Cellular Health and Seek Balance: Your ability to perform and recover comes down to the cells that make up your body. Your body does better, and recovers more effectively, when your cells are creating and using energy efficiently, with as little oxidative stress and inflammation as possible. This article breaks down how your cells make ATP energy, and the hurdles that slow down the process. ATP energy, or adenosine triphosphate, powers everything we do. We make it every day by processing the food we eat, and consuming our energy reserves like hepatic or muscle glycogen. We also make ATP in an oxidative process in the mitochondria of our cells [9]. The process works best when our body and cells are closest to a state of balance, or homeostasis. Check out this article to learn more about balance and cellular efficiency.

How Light Therapy Supports Optimal Performance and Recovery

Today, athletes and trainers are using advanced health modalities like light therapy to enhance the body’s natural healing and recovery processes. With a high-quality device like a Joovv, anyone can experience the performance and recovery benefits of light therapy in their own home.

What is Light Therapy? Light therapy with a device like a Joovv is a simple, non-invasive treatment that uses light emitted from LEDs to deliver wavelengths of red and near infrared light to the skin and cells. Check out this video for a scientific look at how a red light therapy treatment impacts cellular function. Light therapy promotes more efficient cellular energy synthesis (ATP production), and treatments also help restore the balance of stressed cells and tissues. [10,11] This can make a big impact on a person’s training.

There are two primary ways to use light therapy treatments along with exercise and training: either before you work out, or after. The choice is up to you, depending on your health and fitness goals. You can also do both, but Joovv recommends at least 4-6 hours between Joovv sessions.

Light Therapy Before Exercise: You can pre-condition with light therapy before exercise to support stronger muscle performance. Pre-exercise light therapy can also help you limit muscle damage and strain that will limit performance due to inflammation, soreness, and longer recovery times. [12,13]

Light Therapy After Exercise: You can use light therapy after an exercise session, or after every exercise session as a part of your training. The purpose of post-exercise light therapy is to speed the recovery process by accelerating your muscle adaptation to exercise. [12,13] Light therapy after exercise also helps the body process acute inflammation from working out [16].

Light Therapy, Muscle Cells and Performance: Our muscles have trillions of cells, and they all need lots of ATP energy to do their demanding jobs and keep our bodies in balance after exercise and stress.

Light therapy treatments have several mechanisms of action on the muscles cells, like improvement in cellular ATP energy synthesis [10,12,14], glycogen synthesis [14], oxidative stress reduction [14], protection against exercise induced-muscle damage [12,13], and the addition of new myonuclei supporting muscle hypertrophy [14,13]. Light therapy also supports healing and recovery by improving blood flow and oxygen availability [15].

All of these beneficial effects of light therapy are suited to improved physical performance and enhanced post-exercise recovery. Light therapy has also shown to promote better fatigue resistance in bouts of exercise or strength training programs. [13]

Recovery+ Mode from Joovv

Joovv’s Recovery+ Mode is the cutting-edge of recovery technology. Recovery+ Mode is a setting on Joovv’s devices that uses pulsed NIR light to enhance the body’s natural recovery and healing. Cells are under more stress after tough workouts, injuries, and other inflammatory events. Pulsed NIR light with Joovv’s Recovery+ Mode gives those strained and damaged cells the most effective form of light for regeneration and healing. Recovery+ Mode is the ideal light therapy setting to use after a workout or injury.

Conclusion: Recovery is Key for Optimal Performance

Optimizing performance and recovery is about giving your body and cells what they need to succeed, from food and water, to healthy light. Recovery is a foundation of health and performance, whether you’re a pro athlete or a weekend warrior. Ignoring recovery can have major consequences, like injuries and strain. To enhance your recovery, focus on your lifestyle and make sure to get good sleep and eat well. For an added boost, light therapy treatments support peak physical performance and improved recovery and healing. Recovery+ Mode from Joovv is designed to optimize the body’s natural recovery process. You can see all Joovv’s devices right here.

 

 

Sources and References:

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[2] Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011.

[3] Michael Kellmann, Maurizio Bertollo, et al. Recovery and Performance in Sport: Consensus Statement. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2018 Feb 1.

[4] So-Ichiro Fukada, Takayuki Akimoto, Athanassia Sotiropoulos. Role of damage and management in muscle hypertrophy: Different behaviors of muscle stem cells in regeneration and hypertrophy. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2020 Sep.

[5] Daniel J Plews, Paul B Laursen, et al. Training adaptation and heart rate variability in elite endurance athletes: opening the door to effective monitoring. Sports Med. 2013 Sep.

[6] Michael R. Irwin, Richard Olmstead, Judith E. Carroll. Sleep Disturbance, Sleep Duration, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Experimental Sleep Deprivation. Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Jul 1; 80(1): 40–52.

[7] Bakker EN, Matlung HL, et al. Blood flow-dependent arterial remodelling is facilitated by inflammation but directed by vascular tone. Cardiovasc Res. 2008;78(2):341-8.

[8] Tindaro Bongiovanni, Federico Genovesi, et al. Nutritional interventions for reducing the signs and symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and accelerate recovery in athletes: current knowledge, practical application and future perspectives. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2020 Sep.

[9] Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. “Biochemistry". 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002.

[10] Ferraresi C, Kaippert B, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy increases mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP synthesis in C2C12 myotubes with a peak response at 3-6 h. Photochem Photobiol. Mar-Apr 2015;91(2):411-6.

[11] Nicolette N Houreld, Roland T Masha, Heidi Abrahamse. Low-intensity laser irradiation at 660 nm stimulates cytochrome c oxidase in stressed fibroblast cells. Lasers Surg Med 2012.

[12] Cleber Ferraresi, Michael R Hamblin, Nivaldo A Parizotto. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) on muscle tissue: performance, fatigue and repair benefited by the power of light. Photonics Lasers Med. 2012 Nov.

[13] Cleber Ferraresi, Ying-Ying Huang, Michael R Hamblin. Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance? J Biophotonics. 2016 Dec;9(11-12):1273-1299

[14] Cleber Ferraresi, Nivaldo Antonio Parizotto, et al. Light-emitting diode therapy in exercise-trained mice increases muscle performance, cytochrome c oxidase activity, ATP and cell proliferation. J Biophotonics. 2015 Sep.

[15] Stephanie Nogueira Linares, Thomas Beltrame, Cleber Ferraresi, Gabriela Aguiar Mesquita Galdino, Aparecida Maria Catai. Photobiomodulation effect on local hemoglobin concentration assessed by near-infrared spectroscopy in humans. Lasers Med Sci. 2020 Apr.

[16] Michael R Hamblin. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophys. 2017.