Effects of low-level laser therapy applied before or after plyometric exercise on muscle damage markers: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Lasers Med Sci. 2016 Dec;31(9):1935-1942. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2072-y. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


Promising effects of phototherapy on markers of exercise-induced muscle damage has been already demonstrated in constant load or isokinetic protocols. However, its effects on more functional situations, such as plyometric exercises, and when is the best moment to apply this treatment (pre- or post-exercise) remain unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) before or after plyometric exercise on quadriceps muscle damage markers. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted with 24 healthy men, 12 at pre-exercise treatment group and 12 at post-exercise treatment group. Placebo and LLLT (810 nm, 200 mW per diode, 6 J per diode, 240 J per leg) were randomly applied on right/left knee extensor muscles of each volunteer before/after a plyometric exercise protocol. Muscular echo intensity (ultrasonography images), soreness (visual analogue scale - VAS), and strength impairment (maximal voluntary contraction - MVC) were assessed at baseline, 24, 48, and 72 h post-exercise. Legs treated with LLLT before or after exercise presented significantly smaller increments of echo intensity (values up to 1 %) compared to placebo treatments (increased up to ∼7 %). No significant treatment effect was found for VAS and MVC, although a trend toward better results on LLLT legs have been found for VAS (mean values up to 30 % lesser than placebo leg). In conclusion, LLLT applied before or after plyometric exercise reduces the muscle echo intensity response and possibly attenuates the muscle soreness. However, these positive results were not observed on strength impairment.

Keywords: Exercise recovery; Muscle damage; Phototherapy; Quadriceps muscle.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / radiation effects*
  • Plyometric Exercise / adverse effects*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / radiation effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers