Red Light Therapy for Fitness, Training, Performance, and Muscle Recovery

joovv red light therapy for fitness, training, performance and muscle recovery

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a simple, non-invasive treatment that delivers concentrated natural light to your skin and cells. Clinical research has shown how red light therapy can enhance fitness and training results, improve athletic performance, and speed up muscle recovery. Backing up the science are the elite pro athletes and world-class trainers who use red light therapy every day to perform at the highest levels.

Red light therapy treatments are quick and simple: you just sit or stand in natural light for 5 to 15 minutes, ideally every day. This stimulates your mitochondria and gives your cells the natural light they need to make energy.

Athletes and trainers are using red light therapy to perform better because natural light shows great results for increasing energy, strength, speed, and endurance when used before exercise or athletics. It’s also used in the sports and training worlds for muscle recovery because red light therapy has a natural anti-inflammatory effect, and studies show significantly faster healing and recovery times.

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How does Red Light Therapy Improve Fitness and Muscle Health?

Red light therapy treatments supercharge your cells with the natural light they need to make more core ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy. With more cellular energy, your body can perform more efficiently, and recover from strain and injury faster.

Muscle cells require far more ATP energy than other body parts because of the intense demands placed on them. Humans actually recycle their own body weight equivalent in ATP every single day. [1] The more ATP energy your body can produce, the more fuel you give your muscles to perform and recover.

Red light therapy also produces a natural anti-inflammatory effect, and has been shown to increase blood circulation to damaged tissues, for faster recovery and healing results. [2] Red light therapy has also shown positive clinical results for muscle and bone recovery. This may be attributed to a collagen boost some trials have demonstrated with natural light treatments.

Fitness and Performance Benefits of Red Light Therapy

joovv red light therapy muscle recovery and athletic performance video

Red light therapy is a popular training tool in pro sports, especially with athletes in the NFL, NHL, PGA, UFC, soccer, and medal sports. They use red light therapy and Joovv at the highest levels because it’s a safe, effective way to enhance performance.

Clinical studies have shown that red light therapy improves strength, endurance, speed, and muscle growth.

Increasing Strength Training with Red Light Therapy

Research has shown major strength gains for people training with red light therapy. Men doing strength training with red light increase max torque in their legs, and improve overall muscle performance, according to several peer-reviewed studies. [3,4] People also improve their grip and hand strength after short red light therapy sessions. [5,6]

Red Light Therapy for Muscle Growth

In addition to improving performance metrics like strength, red light therapy has also been shown to enhance muscle growth and bulk. [7]

Light therapy increases muscle size & bulk: Research in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has shown that light therapy promotes the growth of healthy muscle tissue, or muscle hypertrophy, naturally increasing muscle size and bulk—as well as strength. [8,9] A separate European study documented significantly improved muscle thickness and strength (over 50%) in athletes who used red light therapy. [10]

Red Light Therapy Increases Running Speed and Improves Exercise Endurance

Clinical research (and the performances of elite athletes) show that red light therapy can make you better, faster, and stronger...and for longer. These are some of the highlights on the speed and endurance benefits of red light therapy treatments:

Soccer endurance: Pro soccer players in Brazil were able to stay on the field longer after red light therapy treatments, in a 2018 study. [11]

Cycling improvements with red light therapy: Red light therapy also improves bicycling endurance. Researchers found that red light therapy “increased time to exhaustion in competitive cyclists, suggesting this intervention as a possible non-pharmacological ergogenic agent in cycling.” [12]

Improved treadmill training: A 2018 trial showed red light therapy improved treadmill training results and increased exercise endurance. [13]

Faster running with red light therapy: The highest performing group in a recent running trial was the one using red light therapy, with “significantly improved running economy, rate of perceived exertion, velocity, peak of velocity, and total time to exhaustion, compared with placebo.” [14]

Faster rugby players: A 2016 study of professional rugby players found light therapy treatments led to faster running, in addition to major muscle recovery benefits. Light therapy “significantly improved the average time of sprints.” [15]

Check out the most important treatment variables in this red light therapy device guide.

Women of all Ages Improve Strength, Speed, and Performance with Red Light Therapy

Numerous trials on women’s athletic performance and exercise have shown major gains for women of all ages who train with red light therapy.

Improved exercise & muscle recovery for postmenopausal women: A meta-analysis in 2013 found red light therapy treatments speed up muscle recovery for postmenopausal women, and improve maximal performance. [16]

Women in their fifties gain strength with red light therapy: A 2014 study evaluated women in their 50s and found “significantly higher values of (quadricep) power and total work for the LED group.” Fatigue was also significantly lower for women using red light therapy. [17]

Women 18-30 stronger with red light therapy:  In 2014, Brazilian doctors conducted a double-blind, controlled trial of healthy women ages 18 to 30 who did leg exercises with or without red light therapy. Their published report found “significant torque increase (p < 0.05) post-light therapy,” compared to the placebo group. [18]

Elite Pro Athletes Use Red Light Therapy for Training and Recovery

anthony pettis joovvin red light therapy

Joovv is the go-to red light therapy brand in professional sports. This is a sampling of some of the elite athletes using Joovv red light therapy to train and recover:

NFL teams and players: All-pros like Patrick Peterson, Keenan Allen, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Tyrann Mathieu are Joovvin’ on Sundays. Before the 2019 season, the San Francisco 49ers installed Joovv systems throughout their training facilities.

UFC champion Anthony Pettis: UFC star Anthony Pettis (pictured above with his Joovv Elite) has written about using Joovv for three big benefits as he trains: more energy, better sleep, and improved muscle recovery after grueling fights. (Read more about the sleep and circadian rhythm benefits of red light therapy on this page)

Gold medal gymnast Sanne Wevers: In 2016, Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers won the gold on the balance beam in Rio. Sanne uses her Joovv to relieve back pain after training sessions.

Pro surfer John John Florence: American pro surfer John John Florence is also using Joovv to rehab injuries and prepare for a shot at gold.

Elite women athletes: Volleyball star Lauren Fendrick and world endurance racing champion Amelia Boone use Joovv to recover from injuries and strain.

NHL legend Duncan Keith: Stanley Cup champion defenseman Duncan Keith uses Joovv for energy and performance, and gave us a shoutout in the New York Times.

PGA and LPGA golfers: The best sports medicine pros on the PGA Tour use Joovv for inflammation and pain. Leading PGA trainer Dr. Troy Van Biezen uses Joovv red light therapy with clients like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Zach Johnson. On the LPGA Tour, women golf stars like Blair O’Neal are Joovvin’ for the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Preventing Muscle Soreness and Fatigue with Red Light Therapy

Numerous trials have shown that red light therapy treatments before exercise can prevent soreness and muscle fatigue after exercising. This is true for elite athletes, but also seniors and people of all different fitness levels.

Preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS): Red light therapy treatments can significantly reduce pain and severity of DOMS in the 48 hours after exercise. [19,20,21]

Less muscle soreness and pain after intense workouts: The light therapy group in a 2014 trial showed significantly reduced muscle strength loss and less muscle soreness up to 4 days after a “damaging eccentric exercise.”[22]

Women experience less soreness with red light therapy: Postmenopausal women have shown significntly less soreness after exercise sessions in red light therapy trials as well. [17,23]

Natural Muscle Recovery Benefits of Red Light Therapy

The biggest reason so many pro athletes use Joovv red light therapy is the natural muscle recovery advantage. Clinical trials also show that red light therapy speeds up the muscle recovery process.

A 2015 systematic review of placebo-controlled fitness trials concluded that red light therapy  significantly improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery. [18]

Faster muscle recovery for women with red light therapy: Middle-aged and older women who use red light therapy have shown a major muscle recovery advantage over peers who don’t use red light therapy, per results in recent trials. [16]

Red light therapy beats cryotherapy for muscle recovery: A 2016 study evaluated both cryotherapy and red light therapy for muscle recovery. Researchers found that light therapy alone was “optimal for post-exercise recovery.” [24]

World-Class Trainers Use Red Light Therapy for Recovery

ben greenfield joovv red light therapy video

In addition to all the pro athletes who use red light therapy, it’s also a popular pain management and muscle recovery tool for world-class personal trainers and fitness experts. If you’re curious how red light therapy compares to other health modalities like infrared saunas, heat lamps, and cryo, check out this guide.

Ben Greenfield recommends Joovv for muscle recovery and energy benefits. He’s also spoken about testosterone and sexual health benefits he’s experienced with red light therapy. (Learn more about red light therapy and hormone health on this page

Lacey Stone is one of America’s leading trainers, and she gets her Joovvin’ in while she meditates.

Jorge Cruise is one of Hollywood’s top trainers. Jorges uses Joovv red light therapy to clear up his clients’ inflammation.

Rehabbing Sports Injuries with Red Light Therapy

Sports medicine professionals trust red light therapy for rehabbing common sports injuries like ankle sprains, meniscus tears, and Achilles tears. For example, Joovv is proud to be an official red light therapy provider of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

A major study of college athletes in 2016 showed that red light therapy treatments helped players get back on the field significantly faster than those who didn’t use red light. [25] Studies have also shown that red light therapy is a safe, effective treatment for tendinopathy and sprained ankles. [26,27,28,29]

Pro golfers use Joovv to reduce strain and recover faster: The PGA’s top trainers use Joovv. Dr. Ara Suppiah works with major champions like Phil Mickleson and Bubba Watson, and he’s a big believer in red light therapy for injury recovery:

“I suggest my players use one of Joovv’s larger systems every day for full body therapy in the morning and in the evening, for 10-15 minutes at a time.”*

Emerging clinical research is also showing the potential for more red light therapy benefits, like skin healing and rejuvenation. The initial research is also encouraging for brain and cognitive health, and mental health treatment.

Side Effects and Risks of Red Light Therapy Treatments

Red light therapy has been tested and analyzed in thousands of peer-reviewed trials. The consensus among medical researchers and the clinical community is that natural light treatments are safe, well-tolerated, and produce little to no side effects. Research teams have concluded this in study after study.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted a review of red light therapy in 2013 and praised its “noninvasive nature and almost complete absence of side effects.” [30]

Red light therapy does not use heat to induce a biological reaction like some therapies, and is not a heat risk to skin. People with specific photosensitivity concerns should check with their healthcare provider.

Checkout out Joovv’s FAQs for optimal red light therapy use to see details about other health concerns and potential risks.

Disclaimers and considerations: The information on this page is meant to educate readers about the science and research behind the positive pain relief and anti-inflammation benefits of red light therapy. Consult a trusted health care professional for the diagnosis and treatment of specific medical conditions.

Joovv’s light therapy products are registered with FDA as class II medical devices for the treatment of pain, strain, and inflammation. Other health benefits mentioned in this article are for educational purposes only and not intended to support the safety or effectiveness of Joovv’s devices, and not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent a disease. The information presented is based on peer-reviewed clinical research, including information about emerging studies and scientific inquiries.

Maximize Your Training with Red Light Therapy, Plus a Free Gift

Drop your email in the box below and we'll send you some proven tips on improving your fitness & performance with red light therapy. As a bonus, we'll include a free promo code too!

Sources and References:

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[3] Vanin AA, et al. What is the best moment to apply phototherapy when associated to a strength training program? A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial : Phototherapy in association to strength training. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 Nov.

[4] Ferraresi C, de Brito Oliveira T, et al. Effects of low level laser therapy (808 nm) on physical strength training in humans. Lasers in Medical Science. 2011 May

[5] de Brito Vieira WH, Bezerra RM, et al. Use of low-level laser therapy (808 nm) to muscle fatigue resistance: a randomized double-blind crossover trial. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2014 Dec.

[6] Barbosa R, et al. Effect of Low-Level Laser Therapy and Strength Training Protocol on Hand Grip by Dynamometry. Journal of Lasers in Medical Science. 2017 Summer

[7] Kelencz C, Muñoz I, etc. Effect of low-power gallium-aluminum-arsenium noncoherent light (640 nm) on muscle activity: a clinical study. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2010 Oct;

[8] Halliwell B, Gutteridge JC. Free radicals in biology and medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000.

[9] Ferraresi C, Bertucci D, Schiavinato J, et al. Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: Case-control Study with a Pair of Identical Twins. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Oct.

[10] Baroni BM1, Rodrigues R, Freire BB, et al. Effect of low-level laser therapy on muscle adaptation to knee extensor eccentric training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Mar.

[11] De Marchi T, Leal-Junior ECP, et al. Photobiomodulation therapy before futsal matches improves the staying time of athletes in the court and accelerates post-exercise recovery. Lasers in Medical Science. 2018 Sep.

[12] Lanferdini F, Bini R, et al. Improvement of Performance and Reduction of Fatigue With Low-Level Laser Therapy in Competitive Cyclists. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2018 Jan.

[13] Miranda E, Tomazoni S, et al. When is the best moment to apply photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) when associated to a treadmill endurance-training program? A randomized, triple-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Med Science. 2018 May.

[14] Dellagrana RA, Rossato M, et al. Photobiomodulation Therapy on Physiological and Performance Parameters During Running Tests: Dose-Response Effects. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2018 Oct.

[15] Pinto HD, Vanin AA, et al. Photobiomodulation Therapy Improves Performance and Accelerates Recovery of High-Level Rugby Players in Field Test: A Randomized, Crossover, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2016 Dec.

[16] Paolillo FR, Corazza AV, et al. Infrared LED irradiation applied during high-intensity treadmill training improves maximal exercise tolerance in postmenopausal women: a 6-month longitudinal study. Lasers in Medical Science. 2013 Feb.

[17] Paolillo FR, Corazza AV, et al. Phototherapy during treadmill training improves quadriceps performance in postmenopausal women. Climacteric; Journal of the International Menopause Society. 2014 Jun.

[18] dos Santos Maciel T, Muñoz I, et al. Phototherapy effect on the muscular activity of regular physical activity practitioners. Lasers in Medical Science. 2014 May.

[19] Douris P, Southard V, et al. Effect of phototherapy on delayed onset muscle soreness. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2006 Jun.

[20] Antonialli FC, De Marchi T, Tomazoni SS, et al. Phototherapy in skeletal muscle performance and recovery after exercise: effect of combination of super-pulsed laser and light-emitting diodes. Lasers in Medical Science. 2014 Nov.

[21] Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Dalan F, et al. Effect of 655-nm low-level laser therapy on exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue in humans. Photomed Laser Surg. 2008 Oct.

[22] Borges LS, et al. Light-emitting diode phototherapy improves muscle recovery after a damaging exercise. Lasers in Medical Science. 2014 May.

[23] Paolillo FR, Milan JC, Aniceto IV, et al. Effects of infrared-LED illumination applied during high-intensity treadmill training in postmenopausal women. Photomedicine in Laser Surg. 2011 Sep.

[24] de Paiva PR, Tomazoni SS, et al. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) and/or cryotherapy in skeletal muscle restitution, what is better? A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 Dec.

[25] John Foley, David B Vasily, et al. 830 nm light-emitting diode (led) phototherapy significantly reduced return-to-play in injured university athletes: a pilot study. Laser Therapy. 2016 Mar.

[26] Nogueira AC Jr, Júnior Mde J. The effects of laser treatment in tendinopathy: a systematic review. Acta Orthopaedica Brasileira. 015 Jan-Feb.

[27] Stergioulas A, Stergioula M, et al. Effects of low-level laser therapy and eccentric exercises in the treatment of recreational athletes with chronic achilles tendinopathy. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2008 May.

[28] Calin MA, Badila A, et al. Fractionated Irradiation in Photobiomodulation Therapy of Ankle Sprain. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2019 Aug.

[29] de Moraes Prianti B, Novello GF, et al. Evaluation of the therapeutic effects of led (λ627 ± 10 nm) on the initial phase of ankle sprain treatment: a randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Medical Science. 2018 Jul.

[30] Avci P, Gupta A, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Mar 2013.