Treating aches, pains & sporting injuries with red light
Dr. Zulia Frost | Recharge Health
BY PETER BOWES | FRIDAY AUGUST 10, 2023
Could red light therapy be used to help us recover faster from sporting injuries and promote better health as we grow older? In this third installment of our series exploring the technology behind the handheld device, FlexBeam, we discover how red light therapy can help address pain and injuries by improving local circulation and relaxing muscular spasms. Dr. Zulia Frost, clinical director at Recharge Health, creators of FlexBeam, also explains the importance of mitochondrial health for longevity.
In this conversation we cover:
How red light therapy can help optimize cellular energy production by stimulating mitochondria and improving
How nitric oxide, which is released during red light therapy, dilates blood vessels and improves circulation.
How red light therapy can be applied to injuries such as sprained ankles or knee injuries to speed up the healing process.
Plantar fasciitis treatment by improving the quality and hydration of collagen in the fascia.
The importance of using red light therapy in combination with other treatments and therapies for optimal results.
The use of red light therapy by professional athletes, including tennis player Casper Ruud, for injury recovery and prevention.
The use of red light therapy as a rejuvenation device, optimizing energy reserves in the body and improving performance during workouts.
Recharge Health is offering a discount on the purchase of a FlexBeam device. Full details and access to the offer latest offer here.
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Listening and viewing options
Connect with Dr. Zulia Frost and learn more about Flexbeam:
- Dr. Zulia Frost (Part 1): Exploring the science behind red light therapy
- Dr. Zulia Frost (Part 2): Better sleep with red light therapy
- Bjørn Ekeberg: Targeted red light therapy to support recovery
TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Dr. Zulia Frost was recorded on June 27, 2023 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.
Peter Bowes: Zulia, welcome back.
Zulia Frost: Thank you so much, Peter, for having me again. I’m excited about topic today. So let’s start it.
Peter Bowes: Yes, let’s start it and it’s good to talk to you again. We have covered in our previous episodes the background. We’ve talked in some depth about red light and sleep and anxiety and how it can be applied to ourselves on a daily basis to improve our health, help us get a better night’s sleep. What we’re going to talk about today is aches and pains. So that could be muscle pains, it could be tendon injuries, it could be joint issues, issues that may or may not be associated with aging. There really is quite a lot to talk about. So maybe I could get you initially just to lay out the issues as you see it and how red light could potentially help us.
Zulia Frost: Oh, this is very, very important topic because most of us in our life experience pain and they could have been pain because of their injuries or could have been pain because of some illness people experience. And interestingly enough, the majority of people who look into to buy FlexBeam device they look in especially to to manage their pain, although their actual device is designed for energy, for, you know, optimization of health. And I tell you why. Because one of their major, major effect from red light therapy on the physiology of the body is to improve local circulation and pain often associates with the lack of oxygen in the tissues. So because there is a lack of oxygen there, you get that achy sensation and dull ache pain, for example. And of course it could be relieved by simply improving circulation. So this is the easy one. But of course, if we’re talking about skeletal muscular conditions, arthritis, for example, you have combination of joint pain, muscular pain. And this is all as a result of some often prolonged muscular spasm. So what’s happening when some muscles stay in spasm, they become actually quite the fibers of the muscles become not pliable, so they don’t expand and contract. So they become staying in a solid way, so barely of the muscle shrinks. And then there is a more stress on the tendons which attach to the bone … So you have the perfect situation for a really painful condition. So in addition to that, blood cannot flow freely through the fibers because they are like a wall, they become dense. So of course the solution in such situation is to improve circulation and relax muscular spasm.
Peter Bowes: Is it fair to say then that generally speaking, pain can be divided into two categories pain that is indeed associated with aging, but also clearly pain that’s associated with injuries, whether we’re playing a sport or whether we fall or hurt a limb or hurt a joint, that clearly is going to cause pain potentially in multiple parts of the body.
Zulia Frost: Yes. Yes, we have. Of course, when when we go through aging, our cells don’t have right metabolic rate or processes. They typically compromise by poor functioning mitochondria. So here you would find FlexBeam very useful because it helps to optimize cellular energy production, but at the same time it improves that circulation. So both issues are addressed. In my practice, actually, I encounter a lot more complex conditions like neuropathic pain because maybe some neurons not firing properly or, you know, it could be central origin from the coming from the brain of spinal cord or it could be peripheral like sciatica pain, etcetera. So, you know, the origins of pain is massive. I mean, could be anything. But typically in all conditions, in my view, I divide them into that poor circulation situation and compression. So when this very, very tight spots muscle compresses on the nerve, of course, nerve is going to be screaming, firing and causing you pain. So in such situation, again, we can use FlexBeam to relax muscle and improve local circulation.
Peter Bowes: Let’s just recap how FlexBeam works. I know we’ve covered it in the first two videos, but I think it is worth in this context just recapping FlexBeam and how it applies red light to our body.
Zulia Frost: First of all, FlexBeam would stimulate with light energy center of the cell. So this is will be stimulation of mitochondria. So through stimulation of mitochondria, the cell makes more energy. This is really positive factor because without energy our cells cannot simply function. And then second effect is as a result of binding more oxygen in this mitochondria you their light also helps to release nitric oxide into the blood stream and nitric oxide dilate blood vessels, which means at the area where you irradiate, you get a lot more blood flow. In addition to this, we know that red light therapy, generally red and near-infrared lights, also stimulate collagen production. We all know about collagen instead of in terms of esthetics, but collagen is everywhere in the body and also engage in the process of wound healing for example.
Peter Bowes: Can I just ask you about nitric oxide, because I know a lot of people, athletes in particular, will use supplementation for nitric oxide, whether it is for more energy in sports. But I also know some people who actually just use it for every day energy throughout the day. Can you explain to us exactly what is I know you’ve touched on it, but in a bit more detail exactly what is happening and how it is indeed similar to the effects of red light.
Zulia Frost: Oh, this is absolutely important. Well, as we talked through through concept of mitochondria, I always explain these processes like you dancing with a partner. So you have two partners. One is oxygen, one is nitric oxide, if you prefer oxygen. So mitochondria binds better oxygen, the nitric oxide stays away. So of course it kind of kicked out of the dancing floor. So the effect of nitric oxide, as we talked before, is to improve circulation locally so that that is most fundamental for many process physiological processes in the body in terms of even in terms of inflammation, because inflammation is respond reaction of the body to any insult and it’s becoming it’s becoming unproductive when becoming a chronic inflammation. But of course inflammation associates with the first to increase blood flow and then ischemic state when there is a decreased blood flow at the site of inflammation and you see the tissues become depleted, achy, pale. And then again, we need this process to in order to alleviate this pain.
Peter Bowes: And once again, I find ourselves revolving right back to that issue of mitochondrial health, which really is absolutely. Isn’t it, central to everything?
Zulia Frost: I totally agree with you because in my view, you know, in many years of me trying to comprehend what is the cause, what is the beginning of the problem, I now absolutely came to realization in almost every single illness, the core is a dysfunction of mitochondria and if we can address this as very simple way, without any side effects as red light therapy, I mean, that was already, I would say 50% the solution of the problem. So red light therapy in this case, everybody should have it.
Peter Bowes: Now, I referred to aches and pains and injuries, perhaps even serious injuries that are caused by an accident or for athletes who get injured during their sport. The first port of call for most athletes when they, let’s say, injure an ankle or another limb will be to reach for the ice and to rest and to rest significantly for an extended period of time if it is a serious injury. Can you just talk about that and how it correlates with what red light therapy can do for us, especially in terms of the the icing on a limb?
Zulia Frost: Yes, you’re absolutely right. The first measure would be to ice. There is a reason behind it because eyes does exactly opposite it vasoconstrict, which means it reduces blood flow. And we do need it at the beginning because at the beginning, when they insult on tissue happens, the blood vessel is ruptured and blood starts leaking. And we don’t want this because then it creates massive bruise and that bruise may be compressed on certain tissues and causing pain and inflammation, etcetera. But the idea that at first with any injury, you need to make sure you complete it with a stage when you coagulate blood vessel, it’s blocked. It stopped leaking. Ice is really helpful at this point. But the minute you created that you blocked there, you stop the leakage of the blood and you block the vessel through coagulation. Then you can straight away start using your red light therapy device. Why? Because it’s going to optimize the whole healing process, The all throughout all three stages of healing. You can only give most the most favorable conditions and environment for healing.
Peter Bowes: So let’s talk about specific parts of the body, those commonly injured parts of the body that really cause a lot of grief, certainly for athletes, for runners, for people who want to regularly work out for hikers, for climbers, I’m thinking of knees and ankles, the two very common areas where injuries occur. What kind of practical use can the FlexBeam be for someone who just goes over on their ankle, twists their ankle? And there’s that realization, isn’t there instantly that, Oh, I’m going to be out of it for several weeks now because there’s very little as we’ve just talked about, icing and long term rest. I think generally people think that there’s very little they can do to speed up that process of healing.
Zulia Frost: You’re absolutely right. And that’s why it’s very important what we’re discussing now. People need to know that tool exists exist because when you use a FlexBeam or other red light therapy device, you would be able to speed up that healing process. How? Of course, first and I tell you, I sprained the ankle and I use my FlexBeam for that, So I’m very, very familiar with that. So the minute you sprain, of course, you need to put the ice, put the leg up, make sure you don’t walk on it. That’s, by the way, why body creates pain for us. So we don’t start we stop using this limb for for walking. And then immediately I would start using the FlexBeam because first of all, at that stage when suddenly blood rushes to this ankle, it’s become swollen, hot, painful to touch. You need energy to facilitate the healing process and you need blood presence. So a lot of blood going to flow there. But at the same time, what you’re going to see, you’re going to see that after ten, 20 minutes of use, the ankle puffiness started to come down because it’s produces an anti-inflammatory, cytokines or little messengers saying, okay, we’re doing okay with with the blood flow. I don’t need to inflame my ankle so much. So the body starts reducing that puffiness and then when you do it twice or three times a day, applications and approximately 3 to 5 days, that horrible, heavy acute phase, it’s it’s becoming easier. So effectively you can probably put weights on it already on a day three of course, depending on what kind of you know how strong the injury is. In my case, I was walking already on day three, but I’ve seen patients post-surgical with the knee like ACL injury very frequently happen. Anterior cruciate ligament injury and again bruise swollen hot. Use the FlexBeam straight away and use it daily. But not just once, two three times a day. Local applications and the longer in time you go, the longer you will need to use FlexBeam. For example, if you injured ankle a week ago or knee a week ago and you only got to FlexBeam point right now after one week, it will take you longer to get the same result if you use immediately if you use immediately, you’re going to see spectacular resolution. And that’s what I love seeing when we do case studies, because we obviously say straight away here your device. So it’s quite profound.
Peter Bowes: But equally, people need to be patient?
Zulia Frost: Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course. I’m not encouraging you, you know, using FlexBeam and start working on it because nature does it for a reason. You need to slow down and you need to be be mindful that you don’t need to walk, put weight on it. But as your body recover faster, you would be able to do things faster. I mean, if you say a normal injury, you can put bearing weight after 1 or 2 weeks, you would be able to do it a lot sooner, like 3 to 5 days. I have experienced that in average. What feedback I get from therapists who are using it from myself, my experience I would say 30% faster improvement if you use FlexBeam throughout the recovery.
Peter Bowes: Well, that’s quite significant. Let me ask you about fascia. I know plantar fasciitis, that awful pain that so many people get and this does seem to be associated with aging, although I know a lot of younger people, again, especially athletes who suffer from this, that awful pain that you get in your feet usually first thing in the morning tends to go away a little bit during the day with exercise. Is red light something that could be applied here?
Zulia Frost: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. First of all, remember. Structure of the fascia. Fascia consists of primarily of the collagen fibrin fibers and which are triple helix. And it’s just kind of immersed in this. Fluids, body fluids. Yes, glycoproteins. And so we need to restore that natural state of fascia, elastic, pliable, bouncy collagen. Yes. And what can do this better than red light therapy? I don’t know, because red light therapy impact collagen by making it much better quality, as I said. And it also helps to bind to the molecule so it’s become more hydrated. So altogether, I mean, on a physiological level, it’s good to use a flex beam right on the plants. But I must share this here because it’s so important. People always tend to look at their problem in isolation, like they say, Oh, this is only on my, you know, bottom of my foot. No, there is a very, very close link with the problem somewhere in your sacrum, believe me or not, that’s what I found through my clinical experience. So, for example, if people have sciatica pain, so the nerve somewhere compressed in the sacrum and it’s not firing and when it fires, it’s make muscles in the back of your leg to become tighter, tighter and tighter. And then muscles of the calf will be pulling the tendon, pulling on and ripping off maybe of the heel bone and and affecting the fascia because the whole structure, body mechanics changes. So my advice, whenever ever you have plantar fasciitis put FlexBeam over the plant on the bottom of your foot, but also apply at the calf level and and sacrum level, then you’re going to get resolution of your problem. So you need to do at least these three positions daily with some occasional breaks to get the resolution.
Peter Bowes: And would you recommend doing it every day or taking a break for a couple of days during the week?
Zulia Frost: Yes, It’s important to know, of course. Really, it depends. It depends. If you have it just happen, then you could use daily. Okay. And you I would use this interesting sort of regime Monday to Friday and then weekend off. This is just to introduce some kind of break. But if you use if you are already having the problem months and months or even some people have years, daily exposure would probably be a little bit too much because the body used to that condition, the body now adjusted to this state and you need to take your body and create a new habits. So use it maybe every other day, but it would take a lot longer for you to resolve the problem compared to people who have just acquired this condition, then it would be faster.
Peter Bowes: Yeah. And as you’ve explained, really use red light. I think this is what you’re saying in association with other treatments and other therapies. And a common one for plantar fasciitis is simply stretching and a good stretching regime that I know a lot of people have persisted with for many years with some good results that these treatments can’t be or wouldn’t necessarily be advisable to use totally in isolation. It’s you need the full picture.
Zulia Frost: You’re absolutely right. I am for multimodal approach. So I would also have a visit to chiropractor or osteopath maybe to release sacrum a little bit, you know, trying to figure out what is compressing the what, what why muscles are so tight. You can actually feel it when you palpate. Yes, massage is good. You know, even acupuncture, dry needle acupuncture is good. Various other form of therapies are good. I would say electrical stimulation, you know. So yes, totally total approach is better than just one single.
Peter Bowes: I gather a lot of professional athletes are using red light therapy now and actually working with you. What kind of results are they getting?
Zulia Frost: Oh, absolutely. I’m very proud to share that. We have a number four tennis player, Casper Ruud. He joined us as our brand ambassador. And he he genuinely using FlexBeam almost on a daily basis. So we know that he’s using it to reduce his fatigue, maybe to address any of his injuries. He’s a big fan of FlexBeam.
Flexbeam promotion: Press the button for two seconds. It’s on. Use program one, 2 or 3. You press start and the lights will go on. The infrared lights, you use them to penetrate through your skin and down to muscle tissue or any sort of injury or ache or pain that you have. I typically use it for my arm, especially after a lot of serving. It makes the muscle tissue recover faster and be ready for whatever challenge or whatever pain you’re having to to recover faster and be better the day after. I can show you. Press start here. You can use it in your neck. Also very easy. It’s ready for use whenever. Wherever, even on the plane. And you’re at the office or the couch at home. You can use the FlexBeam as long as you want. But the program lasting ten minutes each, I find it at ten minutes is usually enough. Close. It doesn’t take much space. You can hold it like a little suitcase or this way. The FlexBeam goes with me everywhere I go. I keep it with me all the time.
Zulia Frost: Also, FlexBeamm is used by athletes in football, in rugby, in athletics, in running arm wrestling and boxing. Any and many, many athletes actually quite liking it because what you could do with FlexBeam, you can not just address the injuries, but you can also prepare yourself for better function. So you could use FlexBeam approximately an hour before your competition or tournament. In this case, you would be placing the FlexBeam over their muscles, which are going to be using the most, almost like it’s a warm up procedure. You could also use FlexBeam to prevent or reduce the fatigue because, for example, in the gaming, in the gaming sport, you have a very short time for athletes to like ice hockey, for example, short time when athletes playing, they need quickly to recharge their muscles, so to speak. So again, you could use FlexBeam for this, or if you’re done marathon or serious like tournament, then you have a time to recover approximately an hour after your competition. Again, you can place over the muscles and help yourself to recover from fatigue faster.
Peter Bowes: And I think the aspect of this, at least to me that is most interesting, is the preventative side. You’ve talked about athletes in terms of preparing themselves. Would that apply also to any of us, especially as we grow older, that red light therapy can in a way be used as a preventative measure just to hold off the potential possibility that we’re going to be injured, whether it’s just our everyday life or taking part in sports, that it can be used. And it’s always interesting to me, and perhaps even more important, that we focus on preventative health as opposed to always talking about treating an injury or treating a disease. It’s far better not to get it in the first place than to take action to make us healthier, to make us stronger, hopefully, so that we don’t suffer from these ailments.
Zulia Frost: I’m so happy you’re talking about this because this is my focus of work all my life. I always talk to my patients and explain that, you know, you invest. If you invest in your health now, you’re going to be having wonderful maybe, you know, you getting older, but you’re not getting older so fast and you absolutely no pain. You’re enjoying your life at any decade in your life. So absolutely agree with you. FlexBeam to me, in fact, a rejuvenation device because it stimulates mitochondria, it gives body energy to function. And of course, all of us, especially when we go through this aging process, nobody likes if you use the FlexBeam, we can optimize our energy reserves in the body. In terms of workout, what I found and lots of our users telling me that if they use it before going to the gym, like most people go and exercise in the gym and what they could do, they can actually perform better at the gym. So if there are women trying to shift weights, obviously after menopause, that could be an issue. So if they use FlexBeam beforehand and they go to the gym and they exercise, they can actually run further, they can actually push more. They can, you know, stretch do a lot more sequences than they would do without it. So in my view, this is absolutely the tool which needs to be used on regular daily basis as a routine, maybe sometimes in the evening, maybe sometimes in the morning.
Peter Bowes: Well, I think the issue is fascinating for the time being. Dr. Zulia Frost, thank you very much indeed.
Zulia Frost: Thank you, Peter. Thank you very much.
Peter Bowes: And if you would like to try for yourself, Recharge Health is offering LLAMA podcast listeners a discount on the purchase of a FlexBeam unit. Use the code LLAMA at checkout. You’ll find full details in the show notes for this episode, either on the platform where you are now or our website, which is LLAMApodcast.com. That’s Live Long and Master Aging. LLAMApodcast.com. In our next episode, we’re going to talk about red light and our digestion, our guts and the microbiome. Live Long and Master Aging is a Healthspan Media Production. We share ideas here, but we do not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind or you’re considering adopting a health related regime, you should first consult with your doctor.
The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.