Heat therapy via saunas isn’t new; in fact, it’s been practiced for centuries. The Finnish are credited with starting the practice, as they dug pits in hillsides and heated them with fireplaces as a way to stay warm during the icy winters. They poured water on top of the hot stones, too, to generate steam and further increase the temperature within the pits, and according to legend, it got so warm that they actually had to undress. In addition to staying warm, the Finnish also noticed that they experienced a number of other benefits when they emerged from the hillside pits; pain relief, relaxation, and mood enhancement, for instance.
Fast forward and sauna is still in practice today. Athletes, weight lifters, gym goers, and even just people who want to enjoy some relaxation and peace of mind enjoy heat therapy. While the process and benefits are very much the same as they were centuries ago, advances in sauna therapy have been made; most notably, these advancements center around the technologies that are used to heat saunas, such as infrared technology.
What is an infrared sauna? What’s the difference between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna? What are the health benefits of infrared sauna therapy? Below, you’ll find the answers to these questions, as well as several other questions that you may have about infrared sauna use.
Q: What’s the difference between an infrared sauna and traditional sauna?
A: While both traditional saunas and infrared saunas share the same objective – increasing body temperature to illicit a number of health benefits – and though they are both constructed and look quite similar, there are distinct differences between the two. Like traditional saunas, infrared saunas are constructed of wood (usually cedar), and are equipped with built-in seating. The method used to increase the temperature inside each of these types of saunas differs. With traditional dry saunas, electric, rock, or coal-fired heating elements are used, and water can be poured on top of the heating element to generate steam. With an infrared sauna, however, the heat is increased via ceramic panels that are placed on the wall and those panels emit infrared waves, a light energy wave.
These heating elements make a significant difference between the two types off saunas. Traditional saunas can reach temperatures that exceed 200 degrees F and are humid, which can be quite uncomfortable. Infrared saunas, on the other hand, usually reach temperatures that range between 100 and 150 degrees F, and the air remains relatively dry, making for a more comfortable experience. If you have a difficult time tolerating heat, an infrared sauna may be a better option for you.
Q: What are some infrared sauna benefits?
Infrared saunas offer a number of benefits. Like traditional saunas, exposure to the heat that they generate can help to alleviate temporary, acute pain, and chronic pain. They can also help to improve skin health, they can help to flush toxins out of the body, and they may even help to strength your immune system and lengthen your life expectancy! Of course, heat therapy also promotes relaxation, and many report that they experience a marked improvement in their sleep after sauna sessions.
Q: What should I wear during an infrared sauna session?
A: There is no dress code; you can wear whatever you’d like. However, with that said, to maximize your comfort, the benefits, and the overall experience, wearing a minimal amount of clothing is recommended. A bathing suit would be ideal, and some people opt to go in the buff (you can wrap a towel around your private bits. Removing jewelry and glasses is highly recommended to prevent them from getting hot to the touch (and of course, to avoid having your lenses fog up); but, with that said, if you opt to keep them on, that’s fine, as they won’t harm you.
Q: How long does a session last?
A: Infrared sauna sessions vary and really depend on your individual needs, including your personal preferences, your goals, and your comfort level. With that said, however, spending about 30 minutes in the sauna is recommended for optimal results.
Q: How often can I use an infrared sauna?
A: You can use an infrared sauna as often as you’d like to. Many people enjoy daily sessions – one or more times a day – while others practice heat therapy a few times a week, or once a week. It’s really up to you!
Q: Will I get dehydrated?
A: Yes, there is a chance that you could get dehydrated, as you’ll be sweating when you’re exposed to the heat that a sauna produces. For that reason, drinking plenty of water before, during, and after sessions is highly recommended. By staying well-hydrated, you can avoid getting dehydrated, and will maintain your electrolyte concentrations. Pure water is your best bet for proper hydration.
Q: Can I use an infrared sauna if I take prescription medications?
A: If you are using prescription medications, you should speak with your health care provider before you make an appointment for a sauna session. There is a chance that the heat and infrared waves could change the effects of the drugs. Beta-blockers, diuretics, and barbiturates can impair the body’s natural heat loss mechanisms, and anticholinergics, like amitriptyline, could potentially inhibit sweat production, which could lead to heat rash and heat stroke.
Q: Do infrared saunas impact implants?
A: If you have surgical implants, such as artificial joints (a knee replacement, hip replacement, or shoulder replacement, for example), usually reflect infrared waves and they are not heated; however, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor before you schedule a session to address any concerns that you may have.
Q: How does an infrared sauna detoxify the body?
A: The infrared light that penetrates the body while you’re in the sauna is converted into heat, and this can melt away fats that are storing toxins. As such, infrared sauna sessions can help to effectively detoxify the body and purge a variety of toxins through the skin, such as sulphuric acid, aluminum, mercury, and formaldehyde (yes, believe it or not, these are all toxins that are in the environment that we are exposed to on a constant basis).
Have More Questions?
Have any other questions about infrared sauna therapy? Ready to schedule your first appointment? Give us a call today and we’ll be delighted to assist you!