This study aimed to evaluate the effects of 5 days of 810-nm low-level laser therapy (LLLT) intervention on inflammatory and muscle damage markers and performance in young water polo players. Twenty young male water polo players participated in the study, which was designed as a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Active LLLT or an identical placebo LLLT were delivered to eight points on the adductor muscle region immediately after each training day. Performance was measured by a 200-m maximal swimming (P200) and a 30-s crossbar jump test (30CJ) which was performed every day before training, and blood samples were drawn pre and post the final LLLT intervention to measure interleukins (IL) and muscle damage markers. There was no significant change in the P200 exercise in the LLLT group compared with the placebo group but there was a moderate improvement in the 30CJ (8.7 ± 2.6 %). IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-alpha presented increased (P < 0.016) concentration within group 48 h after the last LLLT intervention compared to pre, 0, and 24 h, but did not differ between groups. IL-10 increased over time in the placebo group and reached a moderate effect compared to the LLLT group. The creatine kinase decreased significantly (P = 0.049) over the time within the LLLT treatment group, but there was no significant change in lactate dehydrogenase (P = 0.150). In conclusion, LLLT resulted in a non-significant, but small to moderate effect on inflammatory and muscle damage markers and a moderate effect on performance in water polo players. In addition, the lack of positive results could be due to the small area covered by irradiation and this should be considered in future studies.
Keywords: Cytokines; Laser; Muscle injuries; Water polo.