Low-level laser therapy could speed muscle recovery at Rio 2016 Olympics

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The gold medal-winning women’s U.S. Gymnastics team is reportedly experimenting with infrared light therapy to alleviate pain and reduce swelling in its athletes. (Update: A spokesperson for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has since denied this.)

The BioOptics World take on this story:

The women's U.S. gymnastics team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was said to be experimenting with low-level laser therapy to alleviate pain and reduce swelling in its athletes.

But the therapy, says Michael R. Hamblin, Ph.D., a principal investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (who presented on the topic at SPIE BiOS 2016), can improve sports injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome, among other benefits: "It is not only for pain and recovery, but it has major effects helping in training," Hamblin says. "If you use light therapy combined with a training regimen, the training is a lot more productive. You put on more muscle and can exert more work. Everything works better."

Hamblin predicts that someday, just about every major professional sports team will use low-level laser therapy—perhaps even the women's U.S. gymnastics team.


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