Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Medicine


Exercise Physiology

Committee Chair

Randall W Bryner

Committee Co-Chair

Joshua Hagen

Committee Member

Paul D Chantler


Optimal performance in sport requires a balance between training stress and recovery. Therapeutic modalities that allow athletes to maintain this balance while training hard are in high demand, but many lack research. Photobiomodulation is a red and near-infrared light therapy that is proposed to enhance exercise performance and hasten recovery. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute whole body photobiomodulation, applied pre-exercise, on anaerobic exercise performance.

Forty-eight healthy, active subjects participated in this single-blind, crossover study. Subjects visited the lab three times to complete a repeat Wingate test, with one week between each visit. All subjects completed baseline testing during their first visit and randomly received either the photobiomodulation or placebo condition before testing on the second visit, followed by the opposite condition on the third visit.

There was a significantly higher peak power on the first Wingate test following photobiomodulation (p=0.046) but no differences in peak power on the second, third, and fourth Wingate tests. There was also a significantly higher power drop on the first Wingate test (p=0.045) but no differences on the second, third, and fourth Wingate tests. There were no differences in average power on any of the Wingate tests. Blood lactate was significantly lower following photobiomodulation, before exercise (p=0.0001), trending higher after the first Wingate test (p=0.077), and significantly higher after the second Wingate test (p=0.048). Peak heart rate was significantly higher following photobiomodulation on the first (p=0.009), second (p=0.022), and fourth (p=0.015) Wingate tests. On the day following photobiomodulation, heart rate variability was higher (p=0.0043) but there were no differences in subjective recovery and stress scores.

Based on these findings, we concluded that acute photobiomodulation may enhance maximal anaerobic performance but does not attenuate fatigue. We also concluded that acute photobiomodulation may enhance recovery from maximal, anaerobic exercise.