Could Cold Laser Be a “Secret Weapon” for Sports Performance and Recovery?

More Strength? More Speed? Less Soreness? Faster Recovery? And without illegal performance enhancing drugs?

Sounds too good to be true, but that is what many studies have concluded that Cold Laser therapy can do for athletes looking to get a competitive edge.

One study even found the results to be so beneficial that they questioned if they should even be allowed to be used for performance boosting purposes!

Since 2004 I have been using Erchonia Cold Lasers on some of the top local high school and college athletes in Southern California, and also on many pro athletes from various sports. Most came in initially for an injury, but what always amazed me was how many would stay because they said they performed much better when they got laser compared to when they did not.

At first I thought it might be a placebo effect, as I had not seen any studies to support this idea. However, as patients conducted their own ‘experiments’ of playing in a game without laser therapy, and comparing their results of performance after laser, I consistently heard from the athletes that they felt 1) faster, 2) stronger, 3) better endurance, and 4) better recovery.

So out of curiosity I looked for research that might support these findings.

I found this study published in the Journal of Biophotonics from Dec 2016, which had such good findings that they actually said, We raise the question of whether PBM should be permitted in athletic competition by international regulatory authorities.”  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27874264)

Wow! So good they were not sure it should even be permitted! (PBM by the way stands for ‘photobiomodulation,’ which is another word for a specific type of cold laser therapy).

They found that laser therapy can increase muscle mass gained after training, and decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in muscle biopsies”.

Even more recently, the March 2017 edition of the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that LLLT increased time-to-exhaustion in competitive cyclists, suggesting this intervention as a possible non-pharmacological ergogenic agent in cycling.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28422520#)

They found that the lower total energy dosage in the study was MORE effective than a higher energy dosage (measured in joules/cm2).

In yet another study, this time in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research from Dec 2016, the results found Photobiomodulation  therapy significantly (p ≤ 0.05) improved the average time of sprints and fatigue index in BST. Photobiomodulation therapy significantly decreased percentage of change in blood lactate levels (p ≤ 0.05) and perceived fatigue (p ≤ 0.05).” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27050245)

Could lasers really make you stronger?

This study from the Nov 2016 journal Lasers in Medical Science found just that. They stated that With an apparent lack of side effects and safety due to no thermal damage to the tissue, we conclude that the application of phototherapy yields enhanced strength gains when it is applied before exercise. The application may have additional beneficial value in post-injury rehabilitation where strength improvements are needed.”    (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27371449)

This is just a small nugget of the studies supporting just how good properly used cold lasers are if you are an athlete looking to get an edge on the competition, or if you are a parent looking for a way to safely and legally get your kids a leg up.

The problem with it is that unfortunately there are not many doctors out there who really know how to use their lasers, or who may have the wrong kind of laser for this type of treatment. However, if you can find someone who is well trained and has the right kind of laser, the results can be amazing.

Hopefully in the future this will be more commonplace, as my biggest problem I see for my patients has been when they go off to college, even Division I schools, and the medical staff there is still treating people in 2017 with the same technology and methods from the 1970s.

Not saying there is anything wrong with those methods, but the athletes are missing out on some amazing, safe, non-invasive methods and they always report back to me that they wished they could find someone near their school who used lasers like this.

I have had kids fly back from Texas, Florida, New York, and all over the country when they are on break specifically to get a “laser tune up” to get back into top gear. So if you are a doctor, I highly recommend you look into this amazing technology so you can help more patients that need this. And if you are a player or parent, it might be worth your time to try this kind of therapy out and see what your results are.

 

Could Cold Laser Rapidly Improve Your Sports Injury?

If you are an athlete, one of the most frustrating things is dealing with a sports injury.

Unfortunately, most doctors never played sports and don’t understand just what a big deal missing 4 to 6 weeks is. That is over half a season of high school ball!

I played all levels of sports except pro, and understand just how important every week and every practice is. A recent study from the 2013 edition of the journal Laser Therapy  found that cold laser therapy was effective in 65.9% of ALL sports injuries, and had an even higher rate in Jumper’s knee, elbow tendonitis, and achilles tendonitis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799051/)

This confirms what I have seen in my office over the past 11 years. I have had basketball players come in with ankle injuries and jumper’s knee, who were told their season was done, only to return to full participation 2 weeks later after laser therapy.

I have also had baseball and softball players come in with elbow tendonitis, also being either shut down for months or recommended surgery, only to return to full participation after laser therapy. Best of all, they have stated that they feel like they can throw with the same velocity that they did prior to injury.

As with most laser studies, no side effects were noted. I have been using these methods on NFL champions and MLB hall of famers for over a decade, and am consistently amazed at the results. The only catch is that you have to find a doctor who actually knows how to use a laser, and unfortunately many are too lazy to actually get trained in how to use the device appropriately.

The take home message from this study is that if you are looking for a safe and effective method to get back into the game quickly and without side effects, cold laser looks like a good option.

How To Boost Sports Performance & Prevent Injuries, Especially In Today’s World of Year Round Sports

If you play sports or have kids who do, injuries and sore muscles are pretty much inevitable.

It can be really frustrating when you can’t perform at your best because of a nagging injury, or when your young superstar has a big showcase this weekend but might not be able to play well enough to impress the scouts.

We all pretty much know how important stretching, icing, water intake, and healthy foods are, but recent studies suggest that there are newer ways to dramatically boost performance, improve recovery, and prevent injuries, and chances are you have never heard of them.

Here are the major breakthroughs in sports performance and recovery…

Cold Laser Therapy

This has long been a secret of top tier professional athletes and Olympic champs. Now this technology is available for the average athlete who doesn’t have a million dollar contract…yet.

When many patients walk into my office for help with sports injuries or to enhance performance and they see my lasers, the first thing they usually think is “how is that crazy red light that looks like a barcode scanner going to help me?!”

I understand how they feel, because I thought the same thing when I was introduced to them in 2004. However, there is an abundance of research studies that show that we really already are in the age of “Star Trek” when it comes to advanced, non-invasive methods to dramatically alter human performance and recovery, and lasers are at the forefront. Here are just a handful of the studies that illustrate this fact…

-The Feb 2015 edition of  Lasers in Medical Science found that laser therapy “improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery mainly when applied before exercise.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24249354

– The Jan-Feb 2013 edition of the Journal of Athletic Training found that laser therapy “administered to skeletal muscle immediately before resistance exercise can enhance contractile function, prevent exercise-induced cell damage, and improve postexercise recovery of strength and function.”

-The same study concluded that laser therapy done before sports could “positively affect physical performance by delaying the onset of fatigue, reducing the fatigue response…and protecting cells from exercise-induced damage.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23672326

-The Nov 2014 edition of Lasers in Medical Science found that lasers applied BEFORE exercise “significantly increases performance, decreases DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) , and improves biochemical markers related to skeletal muscle damage.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24942380

What is great about this study is that they also used blood tests to verify that the lasers had an impact. Several studies showed lasers decreased lactic acid (blood lactate levels), creatine kinase, the inflammatory marker C reactive protein, and decreased the onset of fatigue, such as this one in the 2009 edition of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19731300

– The Jan 2015 edition of Lasers in Medical Science concluded that laser therapy “can increase cytochrome c oxidase activity in intact skeletal muscle and …can enhance performance and protect skeletal muscles against fatigue development and tissue damage.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24957189

Why is increasing cytochrome c oxidase important to an athlete? This is necessary for your mitochondria to be able to make ATP, which means ENERGY for your cells. More cytochrome c oxidase = more ATP = more energy = better sports performance. Pretty powerful. And no side effects.

It gets even more amazing…

Ever hear of STEM CELLS?

It turns out that cold lasers can actually stimulate your body to make stem cells, which can then be used to repair the damaged muscle tissue.  This finding was presented in the Nov 2012 journal Photonics & Lasers in Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23626925

I have been using lasers for sports injuries since 2004 on Super Bowl champion athletes, World Series Champion athletes, and all the way down to youth travel teams, and have consistently been amazed at the results that they get not only with injury recovery but also by enhancing performance legally, without banned substances.

Functional Medicine, Genetic Testing, & Food Reaction Testing

Many of you may have never heard of this, and this really starts sounding like science fiction. Pros are hacking their diets with some of these tests I am going to discuss to get into Beast Mode more frequently.

We can now actually run blood tests to see what foods work for your body, what genes you have that could put you at higher risks for a knee or achilles tendon injury, and to see what nutrients and in what amounts you need for optimal performance. Amazing times we live in!

In the April 2015 edition of the journal PLoS One, they found that “recent genetic research provides valuable information to help reduce sports injuries and to optimize nutrition. There are many genetic studies for health and disease that can be mined to provide useful information to athletes about their individual risk for relevant injuries.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4412532/

The July-Aug 2015 edition of the journal Nutrition had this finding: “we advocate the need to adopt an individualized diet for each athlete performing a specific sport or in a specific period of training, clinically supervised with inclusion of blood analysis and physiological tests, in a comprehensive nutritional assessment.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26059364

So just what are the tests that are recommended? At minimum, an athlete should get their Vitamin D level tested, as well other markers such as serum iron, homocysteine, inflammatory markers like C reactive protein, ESR, and uric acid, thyroid function tests including antibodies, blood sugar status including an HBA1C, and more.

Genetic testing for injury risk can also be done, although that is far less common. It could be beneficial because then the athlete could perform specific training activities to strengthen the weak area to prevent injury, or even change which sport or position they are playing.

Food reaction panels, like the ones from Cyrex Labs, can tell if an athlete is eating foods that are actually triggering inflammation, sapping their metabolism, and even triggering auto immune attacks on their muscles, brain, nerves, thyroid, joints, or other tissues.

Many athletes I have tested are reactive to grains like rice and gluten, or proteins like casein and whey.

An incredibly high percentage of athletes are downing whey protein shakes every day to enhance performance, and for some of them this is actually triggering inflammation, tissue destruction, and sapping performance.

Cyrex’s tests can even tell if you are able to eat raw versus cooked versions of foods, and even sauces, spices, and fillers. They also have a fantastic test for Celiac and gluten sensitivity.

This is statistically pretty important to athletes. Current rates of Celiac disease are 1 to 2 people in every 100. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity rates are estimated to be between 5% and possible 15%, which means that is at least 1 in every 20 athletes. 

Eating that food can not only create stomach discomfort, but can create neurological symptoms, muscle weakness, depression, poor coordination, and more. None of these are good for a top athlete. In some athletes, it can actually trigger them to attack their own body tissues, like muscle, joint, bone, etc. Cyrex’s Array 5 can tell you exactly what tissues you attack when you eat foods you react to.

So What Do I Do Now?

Well, if you read all the way to here, sports performance is pretty important to you. The difficult thing will now be finding a provider who knows how to utilize these methods for athletes.

For finding a laser doctor, I recommend going to www.Erchonia.com and using their “find a provider” search option. You can enter your zip code and find someone near you. You will still need to question them, however, to see how much training they have completed in working with athletes, as not all will know what I have shared with you here.

For the blood testing, you will need to search for a Functional Medicine trained specialist. You may have a tough time finding someone who does both like I do.  I wish I could provide a better resource for finding someone who knows how to use functional medicine for sports, but unfortunately I do not. However, here is a resource of providers who have received similar training to mine, although they tend to specialize more in thyroid disorders and chronic illnesses compared to sports performance: www.thyroidconnections.com

I hope you found this article helpful and that you are excited about the potential for you or your future superstar.

You can contact me at laserchiro@yahoo.com, follow me on twitter @drkirkgair, or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LaserChiropractic or www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo, or at www.LaserChiropractic.net

As always, please consult with your personal physician before trying any of the methods discussed in this article. This article is not intended to provide a diagnosis or offer a treatment plan or medical advice for any condition.