Earlier this year, we introduced the new SmartSun Therapy red light operator training, a free resource for all Smart Tan members and non-members. Much like Smart Tan’s UV Tanning certification program, this video presentation aims to provide a detailed yet consumer-friendly look at the scientific side of the service. It’s important to know why and how your equipment provides the results it does. While the program focuses on some of the specific features of the SmartSun Therapy SST28 red and near-infrared device, the biological information is applicable to the effects that other red light therapy equipment is intended to provide.
If you haven’t yet reviewed the training, here’s an overview of the first chapter on the biological effects of red and near-infrared light:
First, we need to understand that sunlight is energy, and that the different wavelengths of sunlight emit different kinds of energy, including UV light, red light and near-infrared light. Red light and near-infrared light are “bioactive” in humans. This means that these types of light literally affect the function of our cells.
Just as human cells need nutrients from food, light is also a necessary nutrient for our cells to function well. Our bodies have light absorbing compounds, or photoreceptors, in our cells that absorb certain wavelengths of light, and translate that light into various biological effects. Red and near-infrared light are absorbed by these photoreceptors that help power up our cells, rejuvenate skin, enhance physical performance, hasten recovery from inflammation, and provide additional health benefits. This is one of the many reasons we so often hear that sunlight is beneficial to human health.
The SST28 utilizes very specific wavelengths of red and near infrared light to maximize the therapeutic results of each treatment. Combining red light, at 635 nanometers, with near-infrared light, at 850 nanometers, has been shown to be the most effective combination of therapeutic light for full-body treatment. These different wavelengths of sunlight penetrate into our bodies differently, and therefore, perform different functions.
The use of red and near-infrared light for therapeutic purposes is known as photobiomodulation therapy or PBM. With PBM, red and near-infrared light penetrates deep into the human body reaching cells, tissue, blood, nerves, organs, and into the bones. Red light and near-infrared light have incredible healing effects on cells where they increase energy production, modulate inflammation, relieve pain, and help cells regenerate. Even better, there are no negative side effects from red and near-infrared light exposure.
Red light therapy, or PBM is a powerful tool that doesn’t temporarily alleviate symptoms. It stimulates the cells in your body for lasting changes by enhancing each cell’s ability to produce energy and perform at a much higher level.
As these light waves penetrate the skin and tissue, they are absorbed by the mitochondria, the energy centers of cells. The mitochondria are the life-yielding, energy yielding engines within the cells of our bodies. Our mitochondria produce cellular energy in the form of adenosine tri-phosphate or ATP.
Our bodies are constantly producing and using massive amounts of ATP in every cell in order to fuel every function in the body, from breathing to thinking to lifting a dumbbell. When the mitochondria are stimulated through red light therapy, the cell produces more energy, and with more energy available it does everything better. These higher functioning cells help us heal faster, are more resistant to stress, produce more proteins like collagen and elastin, increase blood flow, increase muscle performance, reduce inflammation, and much more.