Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in human progressive-intensity running: effects on exercise performance, skeletal muscle status, and oxidative stress


The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on exercise performance, oxidative stress, and muscle status in humans. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial was performed with 22 untrained male volunteers. LLLT (810 nm, 200 mW, 30 J in each site, 30 s of irradiation in each site) using a multi-diode cluster (with five spots - 6 J from each spot) at 12 sites of each lower limb (six in quadriceps, four in hamstrings, and two in gastrocnemius) was performed 5 min before a standardized progressive-intensity running protocol on a motor-drive treadmill until exhaustion. We analyzed exercise performance (VO2 max, time to exhaustion, aerobic threshold and anaerobic threshold), levels of oxidative damage to lipids and proteins, the activities of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), and the markers of muscle damage creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Compared to placebo, active LLLT significantly increased exercise performance (VO2 max p = 0.01; time to exhaustion, p = 0.04) without changing the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. LLLT also decreased post-exercise lipid (p = 0.0001) and protein (p = 0.0230) damages, as well as the activities of SOD (p = 0.0034), CK (p = 0.0001) and LDH (p = 0.0001) enzymes. LLLT application was not able to modulate CAT activity. The use of LLLT before progressive-intensity running exercise increases exercise performance, decreases exercise-induced oxidative stress and muscle damage, suggesting that the modulation of the redox system by LLLT could be related to the delay in skeletal muscle fatigue observed after the use of LLLT.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. 1.

    Almar M, Villa JG (2002) Urinary levels of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine as a marker of oxidative damage in road cycling. Free Radic Res 36:247–253

  2. 2.

    Halliwell B, Gutteridge JC (2000) Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine. New York, Oxford

  3. 3.

    Reid MB, Haack KE, Franchek KM, Valberg PA, Kobzik L, West MS (1992) Reactive oxygen in skeletal muscle. I. Intracellular oxidant kinetics and fatigue in vitro. J Appl Physiol 73:1797–1804

  4. 4.

    Allen DG, Lamb GD, Westerblad H (2008) Skeletal muscle fatigue: cellular mechanisms. Physiol Rev 88:287–332

  5. 5.

    Ivey FM, Roth SM, Ferrell RE, Tracy BL, Lemmer JT, Hurlbut DE, Martel GF, Siegel EL, Fozard JL, Jeffrey Metter E, Fleg JL, Hurley BF (2000) Effects of age, gender, and myostatin genotype on the hypertrophic response to heavy resistance strength training. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 55:641–648

  6. 6.

    Lamb GD, Stephenson DG, Bangsbo J, Juel C (2006) Point: Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity. J Appl Physiol 100:1410–1414

  7. 7.

    Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Dalan F, Ferrari M, Sbabo FM, Generosi RA, Baroni BM, Penna SC, Iversen VV, Bjordal JM (2008) Effect of 655-nm low-level laser therapy on exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue in humans. Photomed Laser Surg 26:419–424

  8. 8.

    Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Baroni BM, De Marchi T, Rossi RP, Grosselli D, Generosi RA, de Godoi V, Basso M, Mancalossi JL, Bjordal JM (2009) Comparison between single-diode low-level laser therapy (LLLT) and LED multi-diode (cluster) therapy (LEDT) applications before high-intensity exercise. Photomed Laser Surg 27:617–623

  9. 9.

    Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Baroni BM, De Marchi T, Taufer D, Manfro DS, Rech M, Danna V, Grosselli D, Generosi RA, Marcos RL, Ramos L, Bjordal JM (2009) Effect of 830 nm low-level laser therapy applied before high-intensity exercises on skeletal muscle recovery in athletes. Lasers Med Sci 24:857–863

  10. 10.

    Wasserman K, Hansen JE, Sue DY, Whipp BJ (1987) Principles of Exercise Testing and Interpretation. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia

  11. 11.

    Wills ED (1996) Mechanism of lipid peroxide formation in animal tissues. Biochem J 99:667–676

  12. 12.

    Levine RL, Garland D, Oliver CN, Amici A, Climent I, Lenz AG, Ahn BW, Shaltiel S, Stadtman ER (1990) Determination of carbonyl content in oxidatively modified proteins. Methods Enzymol 186:464–478

  13. 13.

    Bannister JV, Calabrese L (1987) Assays for superoxide dismutase. Methods Biochem Anal 32:279–312

  14. 14.

    Aebi H (1984) Catalase in vitro. Methods Enzymol 105:121–126

  15. 15.

    Huang YY, Chen AC, Carroll JD, Hamblin MR (2009) Biphasic dose response in low-level light therapy. Dose Response 7:358–383

  16. 16.

    Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Frigo L, De Marchi T, Rossi RP, de Godoi V, Tomazoni SS, da Silva DP, Basso M, Lotti Filho P, Corsetti FV, Iversen VV, Bjordal JM (2010) Effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the development of exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue and changes in biochemical markers related to post-exercise recovery. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 40:524–532

  17. 17.

    Enwemeka CS (2009) Intricacies of dose in laser phototherapy for tissue repair and pain relief. Photomed Laser Surg 27:387–393

  18. 18.

    International Association of Athletics Federations – IAAF (2010) Available at: Accessed: August 20

  19. 19.

    Leal Junior EC, Lopes-Martins RA, Rossi RP, De Marchi T, Baroni BM, de Godoi V, Marcos RL, Ramos L, Bjordal JM (2009) Effect of cluster multi-diode light emitting diode therapy (LEDT) on exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue and skeletal muscle recovery in humans. Lasers Surg Med 41:572–577

  20. 20.

    Alessio HM (1993) Exercise-induce oxidative stress. Med Sci Sports Exerc 25:218–224

  21. 21.

    Reid MB (2008) Free Radicals and muscle fatigue: Of ROS, canaries, and the IOC. Free Radic Biol Med 44:169–179

  22. 22.

    Fillipin LI, Mauriz JL, Vedovelli K, Moreira AJ, Zettler CG, Lech O, Marroni NP, González-Gallego J (2005) Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) prevents oxidative stress and reduces fibroses en rat traumatized Achilles tendon. Lasers Surg Med 37:293–300

  23. 23.

    Liu XG, Zhou YJ, Liu TC, Yuan JQ (2009) Effects of low-level laser irradiation on rat skeletal muscle injury after eccentric exercise. Photomed Laser Surg 27:863–869

  24. 24.

    Lubart R, Eichler M, Lavi R, Friedman H, Shainberg A (2005) Low-energy laser irradiation promotes cellular redox activity. Photomed Laser Surg 23:3–9

  25. 25.

    Ji LL (1995) Exercise and oxidative stress: role of the cellular antioxidant system. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 23:135–166

  26. 26.

    Powers SK, Jackson MJ (2008) Exercise-induced oxidative stress: cellular mechanisms and impact on muscle force production. Physiol Rev 88:1243–1276

  27. 27.

    Tullberg M, Alstergren PJ, Ernberg MM (2003) Effects of low-power laser exposure on masseter muscle pain and microcirculation. Pain 105:89–96

  28. 28.

    Xu X, Zhao X, Liu TC, Pan H (2008) Low-intensity laser irradiation improves the mitochondrial dysfunction of C2C12 induced by electrical stimulation. Photomed Laser Surg 26:197–202

Download references


The authors would like to thank the volunteers who participated in the study, the staff of the Laboratories of Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants and the Sports Medicine Institute, especially Juliano Augusto Ziembowicz and Luciana Maria Machado. We also thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES-Brazil) and Caxias do Sul University for their support.

Author information

Correspondence to Mirian Salvador.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

De Marchi, T., Leal Junior, E.C.P., Bortoli, C. et al. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in human progressive-intensity running: effects on exercise performance, skeletal muscle status, and oxidative stress. Lasers Med Sci 27, 231–236 (2012).

Download citation


  • LLLT
  • Progressive-intensity exercise
  • Oxidative stress
  • Muscle damage