Infrared saunas can offer a long list of benefits, whether you have been searching for relief of a particular condition or just looking to take advantage of its reported wellness features.
If you have seen your favorite celebrity endorse infrared therapy, read on to find out why people can’t get enough of this revitalizing technology.
What is an Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas date back to the 1960s when a Japanese doctor first patented an enclosure heated by far-infrared light to offer therapeutic benefits.
Today, infrared saunas flood the clinical and wellness industries. If you have heard of the awe-inspiring benefits intrinsic to infrared sauna use, I am here to report their accuracy.
Foremost, let’s attempt to understand how infrared saunas work. Instead of wood-burning or electric stoves, infrared saunas replicate the energy emitted at specific wavelengths from our sun. Specifically, state-of-the-art lamp technology or other high-end heaters efficiently and deeply penetrate our skin to its cellular level.
Infrared rays are not visible to the human eye, yet we absorb them as heat. Thus, the benefit lies in the absence of risk or danger associated with overexposure to ultraviolet rays.
Another fabulous perk of the infrared sauna is that it is easy to use. Once it is heated up, set a timer, sit back and relax. But please remember to follow recommended guidelines for the proper use of an infrared sauna, which I have listed later in this article.
Infrared Sauna Therapeutic Benefits
Infrared saunas emit heat that directly penetrates one’s skin using various wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation to target specific issues ranging from topical skin conditions to deeper and more concentrated medical problems.
Specific issues may be better targeted by far-infrared, whereas others may benefit from near-infrared saunas. What’s the difference? Well, it’s all in the wavelength- it sounds more like a surfers mantra.
The wavelengths of infrared rays lie between 700 and 100,000 nanometers- quite an expansive range. The earliest infrared saunas used far-infrared, which is typically between 3000 and 100,000 nanometers. Although still beneficial, the penetrating factor is decreased to approximately 0.1 mm beneath the skin and is best suited for topical therapies.
As studies and research developed through the years, scientists revealed that near-infrared, ranging between 700 and 1,400 nanometers, delivers far-deeper penetrating benefits to the human body.
In either case, the benefits are fascinating and include some of the following:
- Mindfulness and relaxation: You can encounter several spiritual benefits to heighten your body and mind transformation by incorporating infrared sauna therapy into your wellness routine.
- Releases toxins and activates sweat glands: Sweat continues to be studied by scientists worldwide, but it appears to have benefits at the cellular and antimicrobial levels. Research has shown that routine sauna use may limit the overgrowth of bacteria known to cause acne disease.
- Relieves stress and fatigue by calming nerves: Infrared sauna use can “affect the autonomic nervous system by putting the user in the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state.” The gentle warmth that surrounds one’s body is associated with letting one feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and replenished.
- May provide pain and joint relief: Heat penetration allows one’s collagen tissues to extend or stretch. In addition, muscle spasms, joint stiffness, and other chronic pain issues are more susceptible to healing with deep heating processes because blood and oxygen flow more efficiently through dilated vessels speeding up healing and recovery times.
- Decreases inflammation: Although inflammation is an immune response that can sometimes prevent further injury, it should not be left alone. Researchers have found that infrared sauna use stimulates oxygen-rich blood flow necessary for white blood cell production. These white blood cells then calm and reduce inflammation.
- Enhances weight loss: People enjoy some of the benefits of exercise without actually performing it, thus being especially attractive to those that suffer from an inhibitory medical issue. Remember, though, that infrared sauna use is not a complete substitute for physical activity. Weight loss results from proper diet and exercise, so you should only look to an infrared sauna as a means to complement your journey.
- Increases metabolism: Studies have shown that passive heat exposure increased mitochondrial activity by 35%. In turn, this increases the number of resting calories that our bodies burn.
- Carries off waste products: Be sure to take a shower before and after entering the infrared sauna. Women should remove all makeup and cosmetics from their skin before enjoying their therapy sessions. These tips are vital to ensuring that your skin pores are free of oils and other foreign materials. This way, your sweat (and waste products therein) is not obstructed from escaping your body.
- Improves blood circulation: The radiant heat from an infrared sauna deeply penetrates well beyond the skin level affecting the body at the cellular level. With increased ATP production, freshly-oxygenated hemoglobin flows like a river through our bodies.
- Effective at lowering blood pressure: Studies continue to suggest that patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol may benefit from enhancing their healthy lifestyle changes with routine use of an infrared sauna.
By now, you are undoubtedly ready for a trip to the sauna, whether it is your first experience or not. Maybe you thought of the sauna as a mere nicety that made you sweat but were unaware of the deep-penetrating healing qualities that it has.
And, guess what?
HOMEOWNER TIP: You can purchase and have an infrared sauna installed at home for a total cost of between $2300 and $8500. The sauna industry offers several prefabricated infrared saunas that require minimal assembly if any.
Although these units are reasonably energy-efficient and cost less per session than if you had to purchase wood for a wood-burning heater, you should plan on hiring an electrician to install a dedicated 220v supply for its use.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, you can fit your home with a very basic yet functional infrared sauna. But, instead, if you are all about luxury and options, the industry promises to deliver.
Some luxury features include but are not limited to chromotherapy lights, integrated sound systems, oxygen ionizers, and comfortable seating.
If you are the DIY type, you may even design your own magazine-worthy sauna space. You can then buy the necessary infrared heaters and accessories to suit your build with the given dimensions.
But, say that your schedule is too hectic to book an appointment at the local day spa or clinic. And owning a personal infrared sauna at home seems like too much of a financial commitment at present.
Well, I am about to suggest a benefit-packed alternative that is convenient, financially savvy, and portable.
The infrared craze continues with sauna blankets. Sauna blankets provide the same effect as traditional cabin-style infrared saunas for just a fraction of the cost.
With the research I have done, you should not spend much more than $500 for a high-end option, and you never have to leave the comfort of your home.
Ray Sauna is one of the more well-known brands that has received plenty of notice from the press. Numerous celebrities have promoted our product, but sauna enthusiasts worldwide enjoy our Infrared Sauna Blanket.
Blanket use is an efficient way for radiant heat to penetrate your body, temporarily increase blood flow, and make you sweat. Make sure that you always search for a low-EMF model with multiple heat controls so that you can incrementally adapt your body to the heat.
Whether you choose to frequent a public infrared sauna or opt for an in-home solution, infrared saunas are a great therapy tool to include in your wellness routine.
Infrared Sauna Disadvantages
Although the benefits of infrared sauna use are impressive, you should also be aware of the potential drawbacks before deciding to indulge at your local day spa or wellness center.
In general, the clinical field considers infrared saunas a safe option even for people with mobility issues or other health concerns. However, as infrared saunas expose you to relatively high heat for an extended period, you should request medical clearance before taking the plunge.
I urge you to read through the following considerations to understand if you belong to an at-risk group:
- Weakened Immune System: Ask your specialist for a list of recommended facilities. In addition, you should request the facility’s protocols and in-place procedures for cleaning, disinfection, and maintenance to mitigate health risks.
- Open and Unhealed Wounds: If you recently underwent surgery or have another open wound, it would be best to hold off on your sauna experience until you have fully healed and recovered. Again, please receive permission from your medical provider before moving forward with sauna therapy.
- Heart Conditions: As we mentioned earlier, the Japanese have seen promising results in cardiovascular patients; however, this does not exclude a person suffering from any heart condition from first gaining clearance from their specialist.
- Pregnant or Nursing: You should contact your OBYGN for the green light to go to the sauna if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Age: Infrared saunas do not pose specific risks to any particular age group; however, adults should accompany children under the age of eight and limit their sessions to a shorter period. Likewise, the elderly should also understand that they may be more prone to dehydration and dizziness due to the high heat.
- Mobility Issues: If you have trouble getting around and are using a specific mobility instrument or device, don’t hesitate to contact your specialist for a list of facilities that offer accessible options to suit your needs and condition.
- Neurological Deficit: If you suffer from a neurological disorder, you must attain medical clearance before entering an infrared sauna. Although infrared saunas operate on a lower heat than steam saunas, you should have your session closely monitored. Heat generating environments may pose potential overheating or burn risks for those with trouble sensing and responding to heat.
Typically, reports of adverse effects from using an infrared sauna include hypotension, irritated airway, heat discomfort, light-headedness, dehydration, and low blood pressure.
Usually, you can avoid these effects with responsible sauna use practices. Although short-term in nature, these side effects should not be ignored or minimized because each individual may respond differently.
NOTE: Please forgive the redundancy of my mentioning medical clearance in each of the above at-risk scenarios. Your health and wellness are priorities, and you should take them seriously.
Regarding the blanket alternative, you should be aware that the research compiled thus far relates to the use of the traditional cabin-style design. Although it seems easy to assume that infrared is infrared, you should be aware of this.
How to Properly Use an Infrared Sauna
To benefit from the complete list of advantages that infrared saunas deliver, you must follow posted safety tips and adhere to specific guidelines regardless if you belong to an at-risk group or not.
Please review the following for a complication-free sauna experience:
- avoid alcohol consumption before visiting the sauna
- limit sessions to 15-20 minutes in duration
- an adult should always accompany young children
- stay hydrated throughout your visit to the sauna
- remove all jewelry and dress appropriately
- women should remove any makeup or cosmetics before use
- rest afterward so your body can efficiently regulate itself
- take a cool shower to remove sweat and other foreign materials
Although the medical field is heavily researched and studied, there is always an element of the unknown. Therefore, it is always wise to side on the lines with safety and not take your health for granted, even if you are an otherwise healthy individual.
If you have been searching for a non-invasive option for a specific condition, I recommend that you communicate this interest with your specialist.
Your health is in your hands, so be the one to introduce the idea of heat therapy if not mentioned otherwise. Be clear on your desired results and discuss whether this could be a feasible option for your treatment plan.
Don’t hesitate to indulge yourself in an infrared sauna if you are looking for a little bit of relaxation. It doesn’t get much better than this- so let the heat therapy get burning.
Please remember to comment below with any comments or questions you may have regarding infrared saunas.