Low reactive-level laser therapy (LLLT) has been reported to reduce chronic and acute pain. Recently, some studies have shown that LLLT may also delay skeletal muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise. We have hypothesized that laser irradiation may also attenuate muscle fatigue or pain experienced after sports or exercise. However, only a few reports have described the use of lasers in sports medicine. This study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of LLLT in aiding the recovery from exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue. Subjects and Methods: Isometric plantar flexion was repeatedly performed on 9 students until the force output declined to 50% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Subjects were assigned to perform 3 experiments under different LLLT conditions: laser irradiation to the neck (NKL), to the muscle (MSL), and no laser irradiation (CON). MVC and muscle hardness, girth, blood oxygen saturation, and heart rate were measured during the pre-exercise, post-exercise, and recovery phases. The neck and muscle were irradiated for 15 s using the Oh-Lase HT 2001 semi-conductor laser (830 nm; 60 mW, continuous wave), immediately after MVC measurement during the post-exercise phase. Results: The total exercise time and mean output forces were analyzed using repeated-measures and one-factor ANOVA with post-hoc tests; no significant differences were observed among the 3 conditions for the pre and post-exercise MVC levels before irradiation (NKL, 68.1% MVC; MSL, 66.4% MVC; CON, 66.1% MVC). However, the MVC at 5 and 10 min after exercise was significantly greater in the NKL and MSL groups than in the CON group (MVC after 5 min: 80.4%, 76.9%, and 69.7% for the NKL, MSL, and CON groups, respectively; MVC after 10 min: 81.8%, 81.2%, and 74.4%). Further, no significant differences were observed in the MVC recorded at 15 and 30 min. Therefore, compared to the CON group, the NKL and MSL groups exhibited early muscle-strength recovery from fatigue caused by repeated contractions. Conclusion: We concluded that LLLT at the parameters used in the present study effectively promoted the recovery of the isometric force output after muscle fatigue induced by repeated contractions, especially in the acute-exhaustion phase.
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