Let there be light!
If they’re anything like me, most people would wish that they naturally had Wolverine-like powers to heal and regenerate cells, injuries and health conditions (and a pair of retractable steel claws might come in handy too!). Despite having some ability to heal ourselves, we unfortunately all have a limit to the body’s natural ability to regenerate damaged cells, and sometimes, due to the extent of the injury or the severity of chronic health concerns, we need some extra help. This is where low level laser therapy comes in to take our healing to the next level.
What is low level laser therapy?
Low level laser therapy (LLLT), also known as cold laser therapy, photobiomodulation, light therapy and a few other aliases, is a drug-free, evidence-based therapy that uses light on the red to infrared spectrum to boost the body’s own natural healing ability and decrease oxidative stress in injured cells. This not only allows the cells to repair naturally but also decreases pain, inflammation, swelling and muscle spasm in the process.
How does low level laser therapy work?
LLLT is applied directly to the skin and the light is absorbed by all the damaged cells that it touches. A reaction to the light starts in the mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells for all those who remember high school science) to produce more energy for the cells to start their repair phase. This includes stimulating the body’s immune response, increasing blood supply to area of injury, reducing inflammation, pain and swelling, and assists with wound healing and collagen production. It promotes healing at a cellular level, which means the results are long lasting and sustainable. It is also very complimentary to other treatment methods such as chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture. No heat is involved, hence why it is known as ‘cold’ laser therapy, so it isn’t the same as hair removal laser, IPL or surgical lasers (so don’t worry, there is no risk of hair removal with LLLT!). There are no known side effects of LLLT, it is safe to use on most individuals, and it doesn’t interact with any medication. Research has shown that it is as effective as NSAIDS without the side effects linked to NSAIDS.
What health conditions does low level laser therapy help?
So what conditions can be helped by LLLT? I have often joked that it’s easier to say what conditions LLLT doesn’t help! Research shows that LLLT can bring pain relief and decrease in symptoms from acute orthopedic conditions such as sprains, strains, post-surgical pain, whip lash injury, muscular spasm, and tedinopathy, to more chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, frozen shoulder, neck pain, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, and chronic regional pain syndrome. It can also benefit neuropathies depending on the injury of the nerve.
Low level laser therapy and sporting performance
Don’t have any injuries or chronic health conditions? LLLT can also help improve athletic and sporting performance. As LLLT helps with reducing oxidative stress on cells and increasing cellular metabolism, it has been shown that continuous LLLT can improve endurance, reduce muscle fatigue, improve strength and reduces the likelihood of injury. It’s fantastic to add into your recovery routine if you’re training for any competition or events.