The Influence of Phototherapy on Recovery From Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.

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The Influence of Phototherapy on Recovery From Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.

D’Amico A, Silva K, Rubero A, Dion S, Gillis J, Gallo J.



Background: Intense physical activity can result in exercise-induced muscle damage, delayed-onset muscle soreness, and decrements in performance. Phototherapy (PhT), sometimes referred to as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy, may enhance recovery from vigorous exercise.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of phototherapy on functional movements (vertical jump, agility), and perceptions of muscle soreness following exercise-induced muscle damage caused by high volume sprinting and decelerations.

Methods: In a between-group design, 33 participants performed 40x15m sprints, a protocol intended to cause muscle damage. Immediately following sprinting and in the four days following, vertical jump and agility were assessed, as well as calf, hamstring, quadriceps, and overall perceptions of soreness. Sixteen subjects (age 20.6±1.6 yrs; BMI 25.8±4.6 kg.m-2) received PhT prior to testing each day, while 17 (age 20.8±1.3 yrs; BMI 26.2±4.5 kg.m-2) received sham PhT and served as a control (CON). Measurements were recorded during five days of recovery from the repeated sprint protocol, then compared to those recorded during three baseline days of familiarization. Area under the curve was calculated by summing all five scores, and comparing those values by condition via a two-tailed unpaired t-test for normally distributed data, and a two-tailed Mann-Whitney U test for nonparametric data (alpha level = 0.05).

Results: Calf soreness was lower in PhT compared to CON (p = 0.02), but no other significant differences were observed between groups for vertical jump, agility, quadriceps, hamstring, and overall soreness (p > 0.05).

Discussion: Phototherapy may attenuate soreness in some muscle groups following exercise-induced muscle damage, but may not enhance recovery after explosive, short-duration activities.

Conclusion: Phototherapy may not be a useful recovery tool for those participating in explosive, short-duration activities.

Level of evidence: 2c