Photobiomodulation for Marathon Recovery

Colin Cook

According to a 2017 article in Discover Magazine, “Running a 26.2-mile marathon puts your body through hell. Even with the proper training, marathoners stagger across the finish line with ravaged joints and shredded muscles — not to mention chafing in embarrassing places.” As much as you need a strategy for the race itself, you need a strategy for the recovery afterward. Allow me to suggest photobiomodulation (PBM) for your marathon recovery.


How to Heal from a Marathon

If you’re running the Boston Marathon this month, you will suffer muscle damage that will show up in the form of inflammation. That inflammation is nature’s way of making you recover from the effort. You will be sore. Console yourself with the knowledge that, according to legend, the inventor of the marathon run (a Greek named Philippides) died when he finished. You don’t have to die. All you need to do is reduce your training schedule.


In fact, my recommendation is to abandon your training schedule altogether for four to six weeks after your Marathon. You should exercise, but lightly. You should also sleep, eat protein, hydrate, and get a massage or use a foam roller. These activities encourage the creation of mitochondria in your muscle cells, which is part of the healing process.


Recovery Technologies

Research over the centuries has shown that there are technologies that speed recovery. We now know, of course, that they do this by stimulating the growth of mitochondria. Making those recovery-speeding technologies available to people is a mission of Peak Recovery & Health Center. What we offer are mostly cutting-edge versions of centuries old techniques. Cryotherapy, sauna, and compression all have long histories in athletic communities. But one of our offerings, PBM, is much newer.


In the 1960s, a Hungarian researcher subjected mice to a low-powered laser to see if it would protect them from cancer. His experiment was successful, but it also opened the door to a host of benefits, many of which I have explained in this blog over the past couple years. Nearly all those benefits result from a dramatic increase in mitochondria.


Study after study (here’s one of the most recent ones) in both mice and human beings has shown that PBM can “restore the function of damaged mitochondria, increase the production of cytoprotective factors, and prevent cell death.” Promote healing, in other words.


Photobiomodulation for Marathon Recovery

In fact, PBM can accelerate healing enough to shorten your recovery time. A 2013 study showed that a single PBM session immediately after a muscle-damaging eccentric exercise “was effective in terms of attenuating the muscle soreness and muscle strength loss and ROM [i.e., range of motion] impairments.”


I can’t tell you how many days or weeks of recovery time you will save because the effects of PBM vary from person to person. I can only tell you that the effects are always positive. Book a PBM session for the day of (or the day after) your Marathon to help repair your “shredded” muscles. If you’re willing to do your private PBM session nude, it may even help with the chafing.