The main benefits of red light therapy are thought to have come from the energy exchange. The responses of cells and tissues to red light therapy, which does not itself produce much heat, can be comparable to the body’s reaction to heat. Certain wavelengths of red light can penetrate beyond the skin’s surface, where it is absorbed into the cells deeper than other wavelengths of visible light can. This deeper-reaching light can have the following benefits:
Reduce Joint Stiffness
Applying heat to a joint can reduce stiffness by as much as 20%, and effects of red light therapy are thought to be similar. This can have a cyclical pain-reduction result as less stiffness and associated pain can encourage you to use a joint more, which can reduce further stiffness.
Relieves Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms can cause pain because they can restrict the blood flow to certain areas of the body, which can cause cells and tissues to be starved of oxygen. Applying red light can result in the muscles relaxing which will allow better circulation of the area. This means that conditions such as restless leg syndrome can be very responsive to red light therapy.
Improves Blood Flow
Just like the body’s natural response to heat is to dilate blood vessels, it does the same when exposed to red light. This widening of blood vessels reduces resistance to the blood flow, therefore improving the rate at which it can move around the body.
This is a great benefit because the restriction of blood flow can cause cells to be starved of oxygen. Lack of oxygen, which is called ischemia can permanently damage tissues, particularly in the muscles as it can kill cells, some of which cannot be replaced.
The improved blood flow and lymphatic circulation aid the removal of waste products from the lymphatic system. This reduces and prevents the build-up of fluids which can cause edema, therefore reducing pain associated with swelling and can even enhance the healing mechanisms.
Aids Pain Relief
The reduction in pain relief can come from a combination of the above effects on tissues. Joint stiffness, muscle spasms, restricted blood flow and inflammation can all cause and contribute to pain. By reducing those symptoms, red light therapy can, therefore, reduce pain.
Improves Elasticity of Collagen Fibers
Red light therapy at certain wavelengths is thought to stimulate the productions of collagen and elastin fibers, as well as the creation of new capillaries. A greater number of capillaries within the skin will improve blood flow to the skin tissues and therefore the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, while the extra collagen and elastin will smooth and plump-out the skin. This can slow and reduce the effects of aging on the skin, giving a more youthful appearance.