Red Light and NIR Therapy: A Solution for Sports Injuries of the Knee

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Getting injured while playing outdoor sports is a common occurrence. These injuries can take longer to recover and cost professional athletes their fitness. However, there is an excellent treatment to treat sports injuries rapidly and regain fitness.

Red light and NIR therapy have gained significant popularity for their tremendous benefits for healing sports injuries for the knee. These therapies utilize light wavelength for healing skin, muscles, and bones without further damage. We will discuss these therapies right below.

Light Therapy for Knee Injuries

Specially calibrated light wavelengths are used for light therapy. Researchers have found out that 630 – 670 nm visible red light and 810 – 860 nm near-infrared light wavelengths work best to treat sports injuries of the knee.

This therapy is often considered photobiomodulation, low-level light therapy, or light therapy.

Several studies and clinical trials have been conducted to perfect this therapy. Lastly, it was determined that LED bulbs are best for light therapy as they can emit specific light wavelengths without harming the human body.

When light therapy is administered, the user will immediately gain the following benefits:

  • Mitochondria in body cells will absorb energy to improve metabolism
  • Improved metabolism will increase blood flow all over the body
  • Several hormones and protein production will be boosted
  • The circadian rhythm of the body will be adjusted to ensure health benefits

Infrared light wavelengths are bigger than visible light wavelengths; they travel deeper into the body and reach muscle and bone cells. Therefore, red light and near-infrared light therapy are often combined for better health benefits.

What Kind of Sports Injury Can be Treated with Light Therapy?

Many different kinds of injuries can occur while taking part in sports. Here is a list of sports and injuries that can be treated with light therapy:

  • Running: Many professional runners are now adopting light therapy in their daily routine to heal from injuries rapidly. Pulled hamstrings, stress fracture, Achilles tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, pulled muscles, and hip pains can be successfully reduced with the help of red light therapy.
  • Weight Training: Weight training can impact any muscle of the athlete. During weight training, one may face muscle tears, tennis elbow, knee injury, meniscus tears, back sprains, and strains. All these conditions can be addressed with light therapy.
  • Cycling: Knee pain, IT band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, neck strains, and lower back pain are common among cyclists. Some cyclists may experience blunt trauma from falls as well. These conditions can be healed rapidly with the help of red light therapy.
  • Swimming: Swimmers often experience shoulder inflammation, shoulder impingement, neck pain, rotator cuff tendonitis, bicep pain, and low back pain while training or during competitive performances. With the help of light therapy, these injuries can be resolved properly.
  • Baseball: Tennis elbow, rotator cuff tears, muscle sprains and strains, back sprain, and knee injuries are common among baseball players.
  • Football: A footballer can face any of the health conditions mentioned above. Many reputed football clubs now offer their players light therapy to reduce injury periods.

A study conducted in 2016 concluded that 830 nm near-infrared light can effectively help players return to the field within 10 days instead of 3 weeks.

How Does Light Therapy Help with Knee Injuries?

As mentioned earlier, light wavelengths reach deeper into the skin and energize the mitochondria in cells. These energized mitochondria improve cell functions and help in repairing damaged ones. Once the damaged cells are repaired, healthy growth can be replicated.

In general circumstances, these cell repairs could take weeks, which is immediately started with the help of red light therapy. In addition to cell repair, elevated metabolism increases blood flow in the human body.

Increased blood flow can transfer oxygen and other helpful nutrients to the injured body area. Therefore, the body gets all the necessary ingredients near the injured area, significantly reducing the injury period.

Moreover, collagen protein and melatonin hormone production are also boosted when red light therapy is administered. Collagen protein makes up almost 80% of the body cells. Therefore, boosted collagen production makes injuries faster.

Melatonin hormone is responsible for our sleep and stress management. When a person is injured, they may experience depression and stress which may influence their sleep cycle. With enhanced melatonin production, these problems can be avoided significantly. Also, red light therapy users can manage pain more effectively due to the melatonin hormone.

On the other hand, near-infrared therapy offers similar benefits with the ability to travel deeper into the skin and reach the muscles and bone cells. Therefore, any musculoskeletal injuries can be addressed with this therapy.

Additionally, near-infrared wavelengths slightly heat up users’ bodies. Therefore, any harmful bacteria can not live in the infected area and worsen the injury. This therapy helps reduce inflammation and infections as well.

Possible Side Effects

LED light therapy is non-invasive and has no lingering side effects. One may experience temporary headaches due to bright light.

If the user’s skin is too light-sensitive, they may experience temporary redness, irritation, and itching after taking red light therapy. However, reducing light brightness and increasing light distance can resolve this problem immediately.

Another drawback of light therapy is that the effects are not long-lasting. Therefore, one will need to use this therapy regularly to keep receiving the therapeutic benefits.

One can easily purchase a light therapy device online and start taking this therapy. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before taking this therapy to avoid any possible side effects. A medical professional can also recommend the user the best device to purchase to get the best possible therapy results.

Bottom Line

Red light and near-infrared light therapy have debuted as therapies not for very long. However, in this short time period, these therapies proved their worth.

Multiple studies have proved that these therapies are effective in treating sports injuries to the knee. More and more health benefits of this therapy are being discovered as time advances.

Make sure to get a good red light therapy device to help yourself with your knee injuries. See if these devices are FDA-approved and offer the correct light wavelengths for ultimate health benefits.

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