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Benefits of Red Light Therapy Workout Before and After

Looking for a way to enhance your workout routine and improve recovery? Adding red light therapy can provide powerful benefits both before and after your workout. From enhancing workout performance to speeding up recovery, red light therapy offers a wide array of benefits that can take your training to the next level.

In this article, we’ll explore what red light therapy is, how it works, and the incredible before and after results you can achieve by incorporating red light therapy into your workout routine. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, competitive athlete, or just trying to get back into shape, red light therapy can help you train harder, recover faster, reduce injury risk, and reach your fitness goals sooner. Let’s dive in!

Benefits of Red Light Therapy Workout Before and After

Source: The picture comes from the Internet

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy involves exposing the body to low wavelength red light. This light is produced by LEDs (light emitting diodes) that emit light in the 600-900 nanometer range. This wavelength of light has been shown to have beneficial effects on cells and tissues.

When exposed to red light, cells in the body absorb the photons and this leads to a stimulatory effect. The light promotes energy production in the cells by activating mitochondria – the energy factories of cells. This boosts ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production which provides energy for cells.

Some key mechanisms by which red light promotes benefits:

  • Increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production – The cell’s source of energy
  • Boosting blood flow and circulation
  • Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Stimulating collagen production and tissue repair
  • Regulating immune function and natural killer cell activity

Now let’s drill down into some of the exciting benefits you can experience by adding red light therapy to your training routine.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Source: The picture comes from the Internet

Benefits Before Your Workout

Here are some of the major benefits of using red light therapy before your workout:

1. Increasing Muscle Strength and Endurance
Multiple studies have shown red light therapy improves power output, strength and endurance in training. The light enhances energy production in muscle cells, allowing you to train harder for longer. It reduces fatigue and damage to muscles.[1]

2. Improving Mobility and Range of Motion
By increasing collagen production and reducing joint inflammation, red light therapy can restore mobility and flexibility. Increased range of motion enables you to perform exercises more comfortably and efficiently.

3. Elevates Mood and Motivation
Red light has demonstrated effects on regulating cortisol, melatonin, and other hormones involved in our wake/sleep cycles and stress response. Pre-workout red light can put you in an optimal mindset for productive training by reducing fatigue and anxiety.[2]

4. Accelerating Warm-Up and Activation
Penetrating red light helps increase blood flow, raise tissue temperature, and enhance neurological signaling. This makes red light an excellent part of a warm-up routine, allowing you to feel loose and primed for exercise in less time.[3]

Benefits After Your Workout

In addition to pre-workout benefits, using red light therapy after you train provides a range of advantages for recovery:

1. Accelerates Muscle Repair and Growth
Post-workout, your muscles are primed for repair, rebuilding, and growth so they can adapt to the stimulus placed upon them. Strategic use of red light therapy after training amplifies these natural processes.[4]

The red/near-infrared light stimulates mitochondrial function and ATP production within muscle cells as they look to rebuild and increase protein synthesis. This provides damaged muscle fibers with more energy to regenerate while also stimulating growth. Multiple studies have found enhanced muscle repair and hypertrophy in those using red light therapy after training.

2. Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
DOMS is caused by microscopic tears and inflammation in the muscle fibers as a result of novel or strenuous exercise. Pre-conditioning the muscles with red light is thought to minimize this damage. In one study, applying red light before exercise reduced DOMS-related pain within four days of leg training compared with no light therapy. Participants also experienced less muscle strength loss after exercise, indicating less muscle damage.[5]

3. Enhances Energy Levels
The light exposure can give your body an energy boost after exhausting workouts when you are typically drained. Red light therapy recharges the mitochondria in your cells – giving them more ATP for energy. This can make you feel rejuvenated rather than crashed after hard sessions. It also optimizes hormone levels for less fatigue.[6]

4. Shortens Recovery Time
Research indicates that frequent red light therapy after training shortens the recovery period needed between intense sessions[7]

Optimizing Red Light Therapy Around Exercise

To fully capitalize on the benefits of red light therapy for your workouts, there are some best practices to follow:

  • Pre-Workout Exposure: Aim for 10-20 minutes of red light before intense workouts. For light exercise, you can cut this down to just a few minutes.
  • Target Major Muscles: Position red light pads directly over any muscle groups being worked hard in that session. Common targets are legs, back, shoulders, and upper arms.
  • Post-Workout Exposure: Generally 15-25 minutes as soon as possible after training when fatigue and inflammation are elevated.
  • Adjust Intensity: Start with lower intensities around 40% if new to red light therapy and gradually increase over time as tolerated.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking adequate water and electrolytes helps the beneficial photochemical reactions occur optimally.
  • Prioritize Consistency: Use red light therapy regularly to experience compounded benefits over time. Even just a few sessions a week can make a difference.
  • Give It Time: Effects like increased strength, endurance, and hormonal changes are progressive and take a few weeks of consistent red light therapy to maximize.

With the proper protocols in place, you’ll be ready to experience the outstanding benefits red light therapy has to offer for both your workouts and recovery.

Red Light Therapy vs. Ice Baths: Which is Better For Recovery?

Two of the most popular modalities for accelerating post-workout recovery are red light therapy and ice baths. But which method is more effective? Let’s compare the pros and cons of each.

Ice bath benefits:

Cools inflamed tissues and constricts blood vessels to flush metabolic waste products out of muscles
Numbs nerve endings to reduce pain signals
Triggers vasoconstriction and shivering response which activates blood flow

Ice bath limitations:

Uncomfortable to extremely cold water temperatures
Can reduce muscle and nerve function for a period after treatment
Decreases circulation and nutrient delivery needed for repair
May suppress immunity and delay healing mechanisms

Red light therapy benefits:

Increases circulation to enhance oxygen, glucose, proteins, and hormone supply to tissues
Reduces inflammation and oxidative damage
Directly stimulates ATP production and cellular repair processes
Boosts tissue healing without metabolic disruption or neural stress

Red light limitations:

Requires 10-25 minutes of treatment time per session
Higher upfront costs for quality home devices
Effects not as instantaneously noticeable as ice bath

While both modalities have their merits, most experts agree that red light therapy provides superior long-term recovery benefits with fewer downsides. Red light optimizes true tissue repair, while ice baths only treat superficial symptoms. For maximizing workout recovery, red light wins hands down.


Red light therapy supports the body’s natural physiological response at a cellular level, ultimately driving superior workout results and faster recovery. It’s a proven way to push your fitness progress to the next level.

So if you’re looking to maximize your gym or training time, boost muscle gains and fat loss, and bounce back quicker, consider implementing red light therapy sessions into your regimen. Along with smart exercise programming and nutrition, red light can give you that extra edge!



[1]Bruno Manfredini Baroni, Ernesto Cesar Pinto Leal Junior, Thiago De Marchi, et al. Low level laser therapy before eccentric exercise reduces muscle damage markers in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology 110:789–796 (2010).

[2]Emad Eshaghi, Saeed Sadigh-Eteghad, et al. Transcranial photobiomodulation prevents anxiety and depression via changing serotonin and nitric oxide levels in brain of depression model mice: A study of three different doses of 810 nm laser. Lasers Surg Med. 2019 Sep;51(7):634-642.

[3]Michael C H Mak 1, Gladys L Y Cheing. Immediate effects of monochromatic infrared energy on microcirculation in healthy subjects. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012 Apr;30(4):193-9.

[4]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;115(3):639-47.

[5]Douris P., Southard V., Ferrigi R., Grauer J., Katz D., Nascimento C., Podbielski P. “Effect of Phototherapy on delayed onset muscle soreness”. Photomed Laser Surg. 2006 June.

[6]Graeme Ewan Glass. Photobiomodulation: The Clinical Applications of Low-Level Light Therapy. Aesthet Surg J. 2021 May 18;41(6):723-738.

[7]John Foley, David B Vasily, Jeanna Bradle, et al. 830 nm light-emitting diode (led) phototherapy significantly reduced return-to-play in injured university athletes: a pilot study. Laser Ther. 2016 Mar 31; 25(1): 35–42.

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