Sports injuries cause damage to the cells that make up soft tissues. These damaged cells release chemicals that provoke a natural inflammatory response, resulting in redness, swelling, warmth and pain in the injured area. Persistent or recurrent inflammation can predispose athletes to early-onset arthritis or degenerative changes in their joints.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) helps by reducing short-term inflammation and significantly lowering the risk of arthritis, which is a frequent result of repeated sports injuries. LLLT transmits healing stimuli to the cells through photons. These photons ignite enzyme production, stimulate mitochondria, increase vasodilation and lymphatic drainage, ATP synthesis, and elevate collagen formation substances to prevent scar tissue. These actions combine to reduce chronic, disabling myofascial pain.
LLLT helps athletes, whether professional or weekend warrior types, get out of pain faster and heal. Some experts refer to LLLT as the best means for rapid recovery and increased performance from a sports injury. In fact, professional sports teams and athletes use LLLT to treat inflammation, provide deep-tissue therapy and accelerate pain relief.
What are conditions that can be treated effectively?
Examples of sports injuries that can be treated include
- Sprains, including ankle sprains
- Hamstring pulls
- Torn ligament
- Muscular strains
- Tennis elbow
- Jumper’s knee
- Achilles tendonitis
How quickly can results be seen?
Individual experiences vary depending on the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and each patient’s response. Most individuals feel a difference after the first treatment that can be sustained with a full course of treatment.
Can acupuncture and other TCM techniques like cupping and tui na also help with athletic performance?
Yes! These techniques increase oxygen and blood flow to treated areas and can also help lactic acid, which causes soreness and pain, move out. Acupuncture helps facilitate injury repair and wound healing by improving energy flow in pathways called meridians. Multiple studies have shown that when acupuncture needles are inserted, they stimulate the release of chemicals called endorphins and enkephalins, which have natural pain-relieving effects. In addition, acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress hormones and balance the nervous system. Reducing stress levels can accelerate recovery times, while also improving the mind-body connection. Read about how NFL teams incorporate acupuncture and TCM techniques here.
Are these techniques only helpful after an injury has occurred?
No. These techniques can be reactive (treating an injury) or proactive (preventing an injury). We can directly treat areas such as the back, hips and legs to be more flexible and cause less stress on the joints, which reduces the possibility of suffering tears and sprains. Studies have shown that laser therapy improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery when applied before exercise. We see athletes who make laser therapy part of their pre-competition routine.