An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to create heat. This type of sauna is sometimes called a far-infrared sauna — "far" describes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum. A traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. An infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you.
The appeal of saunas in general is that they cause reactions similar to those elicited by moderate exercise, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate. An infrared sauna produces these results at lower temperatures than does a regular sauna, which makes it accessible to people who can't tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna.
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Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy
Sweating is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of detoxification. Infrared saunas allow you to eliminate toxins by heating the body from the inside out, infrared sauna detoxification not only eliminates chemicals and other toxins from the body but also helps ease soreness and allows the body fully relax.
Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. The heat generated by the sauna will also help to relax muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, allowing you to relax and de-stress.
If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles. With infrared therapy, the infrared wave penetrates 1.5” to 2” into the body stimulating a relaxation response allowing the muscles and tendons to unwind and release tension. The penetrating heat also raises the core body temperature which creates a “false fever” in the body forcing the immune system to spring into action and start making more white blood cells. The result is a reduction in swelling and inflammation, two major factors in easing chronic pain. In addition, as the infrared heat elevates your core body temperature, capillaries and arteries dilate to increase blood flow allowing more oxygen rich blood to travel to areas of tension and pain. Your muscles, joints, and soft tissue experience relief and healing.
The heat generated by an infrared sauna can cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate — the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. When your body has to work harder to lower your core temperature or keep up with an increased heart rate, your body will burn more calories, resulting in weight loss. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular use of a sauna imparts a similar boost on the cardiovascular system as running. As you relax in the gentle infrared heat, your body is hard at work producing sweat, pumping blood and burning calories. American Medical Association concluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.
Immune System Boost
Infrared Saunas can raise your core body temperature, inducing an artificial fever. Fever is our body’s natural way to strengthen and accelerate the immune response. This enhanced immune system and improved elimination of toxins and wastes via intense sweating, increases your overall health and resistance to disease.
As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your circulation will increase along with it. Consistent infrared sauna sessions, especially in the middle-infrared level, can stimulate blood flow, improve muscle recovery, and decrease pain and inflammation after intense exercise.
Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins, deeply embedded impurities and dead skin cells from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin. Increased circulation draws your skin’s own natural nutrients to the surface. You’ll see improved tone, elasticity, texture and fresh color. Increased blood circulation has also been shown to relieve acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns, lesions and cuts. In addition, open wounds heal more quickly, reducing scarring.
15 Tips on How to Use a Sauna
Wait at least 1 – 2 hours after eating before beginning a far infrared sauna session.
Best Times for infrared sauna sessions are early in the morning or before bedtime in the evening, although anytime is good.
When you first begin to use your infrared sauna, Start Slowly. After you begin to break a sweat, a 20 -30 minute session is recommended. After becoming acclimated to infrared heat, users average 25-45 minute sessions. Two sessions per day is permissible if you are working on a specific therapy goal.
Stay Hydrated! A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by two and drink a minimum of that many ounces of water on a daily basis. (160 lbs. divided by 2 = 80 ounces of water or eight 10 ounce glasses of water, daily. Drink plenty of good water, fruit juice, iced tea, green tea before, during and after your sauna routine.
You may not sweat a lot during your first 2-3 sauna sessions. This is normal for many people, as they haven’t had a recent history of sweating.
Take care not to overheat during your first few sessions. If you feel lightheaded, have a queasy stomach, or start to get a headache, terminate session immediately. As the body continues to adjust, sweating can increase dramatically and body temperature regulation becomes more effective.
An increase in heart beat of up to 30% above the resting pulse is generally considered safe, unless a medical or heart condition requires keeping your pulse rate lower.
Body temperature should not be allowed to rise above 102 degrees F. “Moderate sauna use is safe for most older people, but diabetics and anyone being treated for heart or circulatory conditions should check with their doctor, particularly if taking medication” states Dr. J.H. Halperin, Professor of Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Watery Fat and Cellulite deposits begin breaking up into smaller water clusters as your core body temperature reaches approximately 100.5 degrees F.
If sauna cabin temperature becomes too hot for your comfort, or the cabin becomes ‘stuffy’, you may slide open the ceiling vent to or, just open the door for a minute or so, to let some fresh air inside.
Sauna Apparel. Lightweight shorts and tee shirt are ok. Swim suits are better. “Birthday Suit” is fine, too.
Place layers of towels on the bench seat to absorb perspiration during your session. Far infrared will penetrate clothing and towels.
By Stretching your arms, legs, neck, back area,etc. during your far infrared sauna session you can achieve increased body flexibility, range of motion, and reduce chronic stiffness and problem areas. Massage congested and “knotty” muscle areas.
If you feel the beginning of cold or flu symptoms, use your infrared sauna 2-3 times per day/ 20 – 30 minute sessions. By inducing hyperthermia, you can strengthen your immune system. In many instances, frequent far infrared sauna sessions will eliminate your cold and flu symptoms completely in a day or so.*