Red light therapy is a non-invasive tool used by many of today’s elite athletes to speed recovery and improve their overall health. If you are wondering how RLT is applied or what it can offer, here is an introduction to the healing power of light.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy (RLT) has gained popularity lately due to technological advancements in low level lasers. During RLT sessions, light-emitting diodes are used as a treatment to reduce pain and increase cell function by nourishing the mitochondria (the “powerhouse” of the cell).
“RLT complements every clinical strategy you can find for functional medicine,” says a New York-based sports and orthopedic physical therapist. Fabian Garcia, DPT (fabiangarciaadpt.com). “Every one of my patients uses the RLT as soon as they walk through the doors of physical therapy.”
How does red light therapy work?
“The human body has 50 trillion bacteria that convert external elements into energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)”, says Dr. Garcia. “Red light at 640 and 820 nanometers directly powers the energy-generating mitochondria in the body.” At this distance, red light penetrates the skin and helps recharge cells, also increasing oxygen consumption.
“We are all servants of our mitochondria,” he adds. “Sunlight, air, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals and salts all contribute to the health of our mitochondria. When one of these elements is missing in our daily diet, RLT fills in these missing or incomplete variables.
What are the benefits?
Feeding the mitochondria with the use of RLT helps build proteins such as collagen and elastin. “Light does not repair tissue directly,” says Dr. Garcia. “It feeds the bacteria that generate energy in the body, helping to fuel the immune system and its collective elements. RLT also feeds the bacteria that fuel the organs. In its essence, RLT helps place the human body in a position to heal oneself.
Is the RLT safe?
“Red light is never harmful,” he says. “It’s non-invasive and suitable for all ages.” Red light therapy is considered safe because, unlike more powerful lasers or intense pulsed light (IPL), tissue is not damaged. The effectiveness of RLT is still being researched, but recent studies have shown the therapy to be beneficial for wound healing, muscle building, psoriasis, joint health, pain, and inflammation. (source of studies: https://www.healthline.com/health/red-light-therapy#evidenced–based-benefits)
How often should the RLT be used?
“The red light can be used every day,” says Garcia. “I recommend it every morning for personal use, for 10 minutes on the front of the body where the major organs are. If extra time is available, use it on your back for an additional 10 minutes.
Which RLT equipment is the best?
Garcia says that when it comes to clinical application, Joov is the gold standard. Look for kits that offer frequencies of 640 or 820 nm. Platinum LED’s Biomax is also useful because it has additional frequencies specially designed for skin care.
Home solutions are widely available, but note that smaller portable units will likely offer less LED light coverage. “The secret is in the coverage,” says Garcia.