My Experiment With Red Light Therapy.

Two months ago I had chronic and continuous back pain (caused by dozens of recurring muscle knots – I was seeing a Physical Therapist regularly, taking a muscle relaxer at night, 1-2 doses of ibuprofen a day, and having to take 1-2 heating pad breaks every day), sharp hip flexor pain when I tried to run, and an inability to get comfortable while sleeping. 45 days later, I now have zero back pain, I am running with zero pain AND at a pace that is 1 to 2 minutes a mile faster than I have been able to in over three years, and am falling asleep faster and sleeping comfortably.

I know. Sounds like an infomercial. But let’s start by where I’m coming from.

I’m a skeptic. Especially regarding the newest, greatest, fix-everything solutions. They never seem to work on me because placebo effects don’t work on me due to my extreme skepticism. Which sucks, really. I’d love to have some placebo effects.

However, I am an optimistic skeptic.

I’m an early adopter of new things, and get excited about those things, but then I take a deeply analytical and objective view of them, and therefore cannot convince myself  that they’re working. I take good notes, I measure results without emotion, and I usually come up short. So I try all the things, and I keep doing hardly any of the things.

So the fact that I am objectively, absolutely, 100% convinced of the results I have seen in the past month and a half is mind-blowing – especially to me.

After three years of regular physical therapy visits for my back, legs, and other ailments, and a year of my physical therapist repeatedly telling me that he thought I could benefit from Red Light Therapy, I bought a book that put all the scientific studies into plain English, read the book in one night, and ordered a Red Light that same night. Within days, my life was changed. Two weeks later I bought a second Red Light.

Red Light Therapy Grasping Objectivity

 

So what the heck is Red Light Therapy and why haven’t you heard of it?

You haven’t heard of it because it only recently became affordable for consumers to own. Each light that I bought was $750 (and you really only need one, but two makes the process quicker.) A couple of years ago, the cheapest Red Light Therapy device we knew of was $100,000. You can see why I waited until now to try it.

Red LightSo. What it is. It sounds really hokey that a light could make you feel better in all the ways, but there is a lot of science behind it (thousands of well-run studies), it’s already FDA approved for many uses (and is used by doctors, health spas, and physical therapists), and they actually know what the red light does – it activates, heals, and energizes mitochondria – i.e. The engine of our cells, so it makes total sense that it could help so many functions in your body.

The basic takeaway is this: we as humans need red and infrared light, and we don’t get enough of it. Because of that, our cells are unnecessarily sluggish, effecting our energy, our moods, our muscle recovery and growth, our sleep, and pretty much our everything. By getting a daily or every other day dose of red light, we can have more energy, less pain, and better functioning muscles. Because I was having such extreme and chronic muscle pain, I can absolutely attest to its effectiveness.

I started using the light on December 1, which consists of laying in front of my light (about 6 inches away from it) and rotating angles every 3-5 minutes to let it light every surface of my skin. I have taken 13 pages of notes, documenting daily how I feel in every facet, what time I used the light, how I felt afterward, how I slept, how I ran, and everything else I could think to document. Here is a summary of those notes:

– On the third day of use, my back pain went away. Completely. I discontinued taking ibuprofen and muscle relaxers, and didn’t need my heating pad anymore (though I held onto its use for a few more days because it had become an expected comfort in my life.) Before that, I had not had a back-pain-free day in months.

– Toward the end of the first week, I began to find myself wanting to run longer. I went from having intense hip flexor pain after running 3 miles to running 8 miles with no pain.

– I also noticed at the end of that first week that a pain I’ve had continuously since I started running – sharp knee pain upon walking downstairs the day of and the day after a run – was completely gone. I could walk downstairs with no pain and without leaning on the handrail.

– I found myself falling asleep immediately – something I do not do. I’m normally a 30-minutes-of-wind-down person, all while resenting my immediately-asleep husband. But I was now actually sleepy at bedtime and would feel myself immediately drifting off. It was shocking and magical the first few times it happened.

– Using the light gives me an immediate energy boost. I can wake up sluggish and with burning eyes, then feel energetic and have no eye burn after using the light.

– One of the FDA approved uses is to get rid of cellulite. Three weeks after using the light daily, I went into our bathroom with the most unflattering lighting and did a search for my always-plenteous thigh cellulite. It was gone.

– Starting in the third week, my legs all of a sudden felt bionic when I ran. They had no pain, no muscle burn or soreness, and felt significantly faster and more able. I could run up hills, without breaking pace, that I’d always walked up before. My legs felt like they were putting out no effort. It was spectacular. From there, my speed began ramping up to levels that I literally could not make my legs move before I started using the light. I remember last summer feeling like I was flying one day, and then being discouraged when my pace, still fast for me, was 10:30. I am now running sub-10 miles every time I run – up to 6 sub-10 miles in a row – and have nearly run a flat 9 minute mile (9:08. So close.) For me, this is huge. After my wreck in 2015, I became a much slower runner and have hung out in 11-12 minute miles since then. So to be running 9-9:30 is a huge gain for me – one that is clearly a result of the red light.

Here’s my six mile run from this past weekend next to my fastest run in November, which was the month before I started using the light:

Red Light Therapy Running Pace Comparison
– I also used to get injured when I would run faster than 10 minute miles – I would have knee or ankle pain for several days after going “too fast.” Last January I even resolved to run less in 2018 and hike more so that my knees could be more healthy. Despite the fact that I’m running faster than I have in over three years, I am experiencing no aches and pains from my running, during or after the runs.

– After three weeks, some of my back pain returned. It wasn’t as bad as it was before, and was more localized. I was discouraged, because I couldn’t figure out why it would show back up, but then I was able to pinpoint where it was coming from: our old and unsupportive mattress. The light had stripped away all of my other muscle pain to make it obvious that the one thing I couldn’t red light away – my mattress – was still hurting me. We bought a new mattress and now I am back to zero back pain, all the time.

There are many, many other FDA approved and researched uses for the lights. Although my lack of pain has been miraculous, the thing that got me most excited about the light’s potential are the documented cognitive improvements it can make over time. It’s supposed to make your brain work better, which y’all know I need. If a light could make me able to write again, I would be ever so thankful. That’s still out on trial, but hey – I am writing this, so it’s a start.

So if you’re interested in trying Red Light Therapy, here are my tips:

1. Read this book first. It has so much valuable information in it, and is an easy read that is objective and informative. He explains the science behind the lights in plain English, and he tested dozens of lights and narrowed down the options tremendously.
Red Light Therapy Book

2. BUY CAREFULLY. Most Red Light products (there are a ton on Amazon) are not powerful enough to work. The studies have been able to pinpoint what wavelengths and outputs are helpful, and it’s a pretty specific science. The book explains all of this and has several brands they recommend. The two I got are PlatinumLED Therapy Light’s BIO-600, Combo Red light(Edited to Add: Several months after this post was written, the manufacturers offered me a coupon code to share: ObjectivityLight gets you 5% off your entire order.) I bought PlatinumLED Therapy’s lights because it was cited in the book as the least expensive, most effective light. A local light technician tested and compared my light’s output to a much more expensive brand (Joov), and they measured the same.

3. Make it a part of your daily routine. I think the dramatic effects I’ve experienced are because I have used it every single day – and sometimes twice a day.

4. Take notes. Find what time works best for you. I found that too close to bedtime kept me awake, but about 4 hours before bedtime put me to sleep. However, in general I tend to use it earlier in the day for the energy boost. And I can also tell a huge difference in runs after I’ve used the light for the day versus runs before lighting.

 

So clearly, I’m a believer. I will continue to take notes and use the light daily, and will update its results in the future. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, or email me at rachel@graspingforobjectivity.com.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. This is great news! I’m so happy that you have found something that is making you feel good!

  2. So my first thought was ”Does the red light mean ‘stop and slow down’ with your hectic life?”
    And then I got to the part where you can buy a light for home use!! YAY! I can do this at home!
    Interestingly I just read an article about how we need to get more sunlight, not for the vitamin D like we’ve been told but because the sunlight does so much more than just elevate vitamin D. That is, higher Vit. D is only an indication that the other things are going on and by taking a supplement and staying out of the sun we are missing the most important part. I wonder if this red light supplies that most important thing.
    I have issues going out in the sun because I’m a redhead and burn to a crisp.

  3. Wow, what amazing results so glad this is working for you! I’m going to share with my husband who is a runner and has some knee and sciatic issues. Last year he had such bad back problems the only time he wasn’t in pain was if he sat down so we ended up spending over $2000 to have him do acupuncture and spinal decompression.
    It worked, but I’m so worried that he will get hurt again.
    Can I ask why you chose the size you did and not one of the other two options?

    • What I bought was based on reading the book – the bigger the unit, the less time it takes to get light to all of your body, which is also why I bought a second one. You could also do one large one and one small one and still get full body coverage.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Wow! I’m so happy this works so well for you! Is this something that you can try out at a PT office or something before buying?

    • Based on the comments I’ve seen on this post on Facebook, apparently a lot of fitness gyms have them? I’ve also seen a tanning salon near me that has a red light be. And yes, some PTs would have them, but that might be harder to track down.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Okay, you’ve definitely piqued my interest. I started having back pain for the first time in my life last February, and since then, my body feels like it has aged 10 years. I went from walking ~25 miles/week to fewer than 10, even though I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly. It’s been kind of depressing, which I’m sure you can relate to.

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. I much prefer being active and I’m definitely looking into this.

  6. Wow that is amazing! I’ve never even heard of this. I wonder if it would help my grandma. She has all sorts of back and leg pain because of arthritis and sciatic problems. I need to check this out! Are there any negative side effects? Or wrong ways to use it?

    • There are no side effects that they’ve found. There’s no wrong way to use it, though you don’t want to overdo it – you lose the benefits (but it takes a LOT to overdo it – basically don’t sleep in front of it.) I wear sunglasses when I’m facing it most of the time – it’s actually supposed to be good for your eyes, but my eyes are so sensitive, I try to be careful with them.

  7. Kate Jaco says:

    This is very fascinating. I’ve been going to the chiropractor for 4 months for a bulging disc that’s ever so slowly getting better. I wonder if the lights help something like that. I’m looking forward to doing more research. Thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you found something that’s helping you.

    • In my unscientific opinion (based on my reading and experience), I think it helps muscle the best, nerve pain the next best, and bone pain I’m not so sure about. But bulging disc pain might be because of muscle spasms around the disc? If so, it could really help. Another way of putting it – it helps inflammation really well – so if it’s inflammation, I think it would help.

  8. That’s really cool, I’ll have to check into that. I wonder if it helps her muscular dystrophy, which is what I have? I will look into it! Thank you so much for sharing, and it’s wonderful hearing from you. I hope you continue to have such good results! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jennifer T. says:

    Very intriguing. I’d love to hear another update in a couple months!

  10. SHEILA TODD says:

    Thank you for your article documenting your personal experience. Most of the things I have found by searching make it seem that Joovv is the ONLY vendor. It is great to hear that there is a source for red light that is more reasonably priced. I will definitely get the book before I buy a unit.

    • EricBarry says:

      Couldn’t help but to chime in ,, Joovv is way over priced and the power is no match for Platinum LED . I currently own the medium size , it’s so powerful that in 15 min I’ve bathed my body , I wouldn’t be with out it

  11. Leanne rau says:

    I’ve never heard of this, but I’m fascinated I just ordered the book. Im currently dealing with back pain. My dad has severe nerve pain and gout. And I’m curious if it could help my special needs son, so I’ll be anxious to read and learn more! Keep us updated on what you see with it, I always enjoy your writing!

  12. Hi Rachel, curious how long you spend each day with it… Do you think you can do with less time/less frequency after some period of time? I don’t have back pain but hamstring pain from running. Some random days I hurt (muscles) from exercising and other days not, and no idea what causes it. Also I go through periods with lots of muscle and foot cramps (like now).

    Thanks.

  13. Crap, I bought the wrong book! I should have known better than to just google what I thought was the title :(

  14. Donna Crowley says:

    I just found your blog from the review you left on PlatinumLED. While searching Amazon in December for an E-book, I found Ari’s book on red light therapy. I bought & read it. Within a week, I convinced my husband that we should buy one. I bought a bio 600 combo. I used the light every day for 10 minutes on front & back side. I was feeling better but I kept thinking that maybe I want this to work due to the amount of money invested. Within 3 weeks, a mole I had on my back was gone. I could no longer argue it’s benefits. I purchased a bio 300 combo that night. I had custom hooks made to stack my lights. They are no longer adjustable but I don’t need them to be. I have them set at a height that works for both my husband and myself.
    I was interested in red light therapy due to neuropathy pain from 3 back surgeries. My pain has lessened a lot to the point that I’m now back to weight training. (I also bought a new bed).
    I work nights as a sleep technologist. I have difficulty sleeping during the daytime. I wanted something to help with that instead of relying on meds. I’m starting to sleep better without Ambien or zquil..
    I have hypothyroidism and dry macular degeneration. I’ve read promising studies on red light therapy to treat both of these conditions. I’m hopeful to see benefits in those areas as well.
    Good luck!

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