A deeper dive into this powerful wellness technique!
If you are a wellness lover like us, the probability that you have heard of infrared saunas is quite high. Actually, you may have been blessed to see them come across your Instagram feed. These modern looking 'boxes' implement some very interesting technologies on the human body. The models in these saunas always look so glowing, relaxed, and, content. Now, one of us everyday folk might be wondering just what all the hype is all about!
The infrared sauna is a wooden, usually cedar, box-like structure with infrared heater panels that are designed to help 'detoxify' and heal the body, help circulation, enhance mood, and more! Unlike traditional saunas that produce steam or dry heat to warm the space, IR saunas use infrared to directly raise body temperature.
Infrared heat is a more gentle heat. The experience is kind of similar to laying in the sun on a warm day and feeling the heat radiate to the core of your body. The difference from traditional hot rock or steam saunas, which operate in excess of 200°F, and infrared saunas, is that the IR heat has the benefit of operating in the 100-150°F range. This lends itself to be more manageable for a 60 minute session and less likely to impede breathing!
The Hot Science
This may be surprising to some, or, we just don't think about it on a daily basis, but, the sun produces invisible wavelengths which are, indeed, infrared rays. What makes us feel warm from the sun is not the light, but, actually infrared wavelengths. This knowledge shows us how infrared saunas can be a powerful natural way to heal as scientists have established that infrared waves are beneficial to the body. Since they are easily absorbed, stimulation of the cardiovascular, lymphatic, and immune systems can be achieved without the harmful effects of UV rays.
The three main categories of the infrared spectrum each have their own distinctive properties. Far infrared, which is close to what our body gives off, is captured by water, and releases it's energy. Since similar, this strengthens and enhances our own energy. Mid infrared, are also captured by water while increasing circulation through vasodilation, and, bringing oxygen to areas that need healing. Near infrared, the shortest wavelength, penetrates the deepest, heats the core, produces energy within the cells, and increases cellular repair.
With infrared therapy, the infrared wave penetrates 1.5 to 2 inches into the body stimulating a relaxation response to allow the muscles and tendons to unwind and release tension. the result is a reduction in swelling and inflammation, two major factors in easing chronic pain. Additionally, 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.