Please find below important information about the benefits of the infrared sauna, along with tips and instructions of how to use it. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR! (Information below is taken from open sources).
What is radiant heat?
Radiant heat is simply a form of energy that heats objects directly through a process called conversion, without having to heat the air in between. Radiant heat is also called infrared energy. The infrared segment of the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into 3 segments by wave length: near or close, intermediate, and far or long wave infrared. The infrared segment of the electromagnetic spectrum occurs just below (infra means `below’) red light, which we perceive as heat. Our sun produces most of its energy output in the infrared segment of the spectrum. The sun is the principal source of radiant energy that we experience daily. The infrared heat in the infrared sauna is just like the heat from our sun or that which our own bodies produce as they burn fuel to keep us warm.
Infrared sauna uses infrared radiant energy to directly penetrate the body’s tissues to a depth of over one and a half inch. Its energy output is tuned to correspond so closely to the body’s own radiant energy that our bodies absorb more than 90% of the infrared waves that reach our skin.
Infrared sauna can warm you to much greater depth and much more efficiently than a conventional hot-air sauna, as its energy output is primarily used to convert energy directly to heat in us and not create excessively hot air that then only heats the skin superficially. This crucial difference explains many of the unprecedented benefits reported to be available through an infrared sauna. The infrared energy applied in these thermal systems may induce up to 2-3 times the sweat volume of a hot-air sauna while operating at a significantly cooler air temperature range (40–60ºC (110–130ºF) vs. 80–110ºC (180–235ºF) for hot-air saunas). In addition to making you feel more comfortable, lower heat range is safer for those concerned about cardiovascular risk factors.
Health Benefits of Infrared Heat
Heat relieves pain by expanding blood vessels and increasing circulation. Better circulation allows more oxygen to reach injured areas of the body and helps reduce pain and speed up the healing process.
Perspiring is part of the complex thermoregulatory process of the body that increases the heart rate, cardiac output, and metabolic rate. The process requires a large amount of energy and reduces excess moisture, salt and subcutaneous fat. Fat becomes water-soluble and the body sweats out fats and toxins.
During a 10–20 minute sauna session, your heart rate increases by 50–75%. This provides the same metabolic result as physical exercise. The increased cardiac load is the equivalent to a brisk walk. There is a nominal effect on blood pressure because the heat also causes blood vessels in skin to expand to accommodate increased blood flow.
Toxins such as sodium, alcohol, nicotine, cholesterol and carcinogenic heavy metals (cadmium, lead, zinc, nickel) accumulate in the body during modern daily life. The body eliminates most toxins naturally by sweating. Heat therapy stimulates the sweat glands that cleanse and detoxify the skin. The heat simply speeds up the body’s natural process.
Most illnesses are accompanied by a fever. During a fever, the body heats up to eliminate viruses and attack foreign agents. Often misunderstood, this rise in temperature is a natural stage of the immune system’s healing process and is one of the best ways to rid the body of chemicals and unwelcome visitors. The immune system weakens the hold of viruses and bacterial growth. Saunas induce an “artificial fever” by heating up the body but without the pains of an illness. Subsequently, the body wards off invading organisms much more easily because the immune system is activated consistently by the “artificial fever”.
Heat therapy loosens the muscles and relaxes the body. Many massage therapists use heat to provide more thorough and effective treatment.
Benefit to skin
Heat improves circulation, expels dirt and chemicals and removes dead cells on the surface of the skin. This leads to a more soft and clear complexion
Other Therapeutic Effects of Infrared Therapy
(summarized from Lehman J.F., De Lateur B.J. Therapeutic Heat // Therapeutic Heat and Cold. – 4th ed. – Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1990.)
1. Infrared heat increases the extensibility of collagen tissues. Tissues heated to 45 degrees Celsius and then stretched exhibit a nonelastic residual elongation of about 0.5 to 0.9 percent that persists after the stretch is removed. This does not occur in these same tissues when stretched at normal tissue temperature.
Stretching of tissue in the presence of heat would be especially valuable in working with ligaments, joint capsules, tendons, fasciae, and synovium that have become scarred, thickened, or contracted. Experiments cited clearly showed low-force stretching could produce significant residual elongation when heat is applied together with stretching or range of motion exercises.
2. Infrared heat decreases joint stiffness. There was a 20% decrease in rheumatoid finger joint stiffness at 45 degrees Celsius (112°F) as compared with 33 degrees Celsius (92°F), which correlated perfectly to both subjective and objective observation of stiffness. Speculation has it that any stiffened joint and thickened connective tissues may respond in a similar fashion.
3. Infrared heat relieves muscle spasms. Muscle spasms have long been observed to be reduced through the use of heat, be they secondary to underlying skeletal, joint, or neuropathological conditions. This result is possibly produced by the combined effect of heat on both primary and secondary afferent nerves from spindle cells and from its effect on Golgi tendon organs.
4. Infrared heat treatment leads to pain relief. Pain may be relieved via the reduction of attendant or secondary spasms. Pain is also at times related to ischemia due to tension or spasm that can be improved by hyperthermia that heat-induced vasodilatation produces, thus breaking the feedback loop in which ischemia leads to further spasm and then more pain. Heat has been shown to reduce pain sensation by direct action on both free-nerve endings in tissues and on peripheral nerves. In one dental study, repeated heat applications led finally to abolishment of the whole nerve response responsible for pain arising from dental pulp. Heat may lead to increased endorphin production and a shutting down of the so-called “spinal gate” of Melzack and Wall, each of which can reduce pain.
Localized infrared therapy using lamps tuned to the 2 to 25 micron wave band is used for the treatment and relief of pain by over 40 reputable Chinese medical institutes.
5. Infrared heat increases blood flow. Heating one area of the body produces reflex-modulated vasodilators in distant-body areas, even in the absence of a change in core temperature. Heat one extremity and the contralateral extremity also dilates; heat a forearm and both lower extremities dilate.
Heating muscles produces an increased blood flow level similar to that seen during exercise. Temperature elevation also produces increased blood flow and dilation directly in capillaries, arterioles, and venules, probably through direct action on their smooth muscles. The release of bradykinin, released as a consequence of sweat gland activity, also produces increased blood flow and vasodilatation.
Whole body hyperthermia, with a consequent core temperature elevation, further induces vasodilatation via a hypothalamic-induced decrease in sympathetic tone on the arteriovenous anastomoses. Vasodilatation is also produced by axonal reflexes that change vasomotor balance.
6. Infrared heat assists in resolution of inflammatory infiltrates, edema, and exudates. Increased peripheral circulation provides the transport needed to help evacuate edema, which can help inflammation, decrease pain, and help speed healing.
7. Infrared heat introduced in cancer therapy. More recently, infrared heat has been used in cancer therapy. This is a new experimental procedure that shows great promise in some cases when used properly. American researchers favor careful monitoring of the tumor temperature; whereas, the successes reported in Japan make no mention of such precaution.
8. Infrared heat affects soft tissue injury. Infrared healing is now becoming a leading edge care for soft tissue injuries to promote both relief in chronic or intractable “permanent” cases, and accelerated healing in newer injuries.
Please check below for important health issues prior to the use of infrared sauna.
If you are using prescription drugs, check with your physician or pharmacist for possible changes in the drug’s effect due to an interaction with infrared therapy.
According to some authorities, it is considered inadvisable to raise the core temperature of someone with adrenal suppression, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.
If you have a recent (acute) joint injury, you should not heat it for the first 48 hours or until the hot and swollen symptoms subside. Joints that are chronically hot and swollen may respond poorly to vigorous heating of any kind. Vigorous heating in cases of enclosed infections (dental, in joints, or in any other tissues) is not advisable.
In pregnancy or the suspicion of pregnancy, it is recommended to refrain from using infrared sauna. Finnish women use traditional saunas that do not heat the body as deeply as an infrared sauna for only six to twelve minutes and reportedly leave at that time due to perceived discomfort. Their usage of traditional saunas at this low level of intensity is not linked to birth defects. Infrared sauna use may be two to three times more intense due to deep tissue penetration, and comparatively shorter two to six minute sessions hardly seem worth any minimal risk they may present, especially during cases of toxemia or complicated pregnancy. So please consult a physician before you decide to take a sauna.
Metal pins, rods, artificial joints, or any other surgical implants generally reflect infrared rays and are not heated by an infrared heat system. Nevertheless, you should consult your surgeon before receiving such therapy. Certainly infrared therapy must be discontinued if you experience pain near any implants.
Implanted silicone or silicone prostheses for nose or ear replacement may be warmed by infrared rays. Since silicone melts at over 200ºС (392ºF), it should not be adversely effected by an infrared heat system. It is still advised however that you check with your surgeon, to be certain.
Heating of the low-back area of women during the menstrual period may temporarily increase menstrual flow. Once a woman is aware that this is occurring, she can choose to allow herself to experience this short-term effect without worry. Or she may simply avoid using an infrared heat source at that time in her cycle.
Hemophiliacs and anyone predisposed to hemorrhage should avoid infrared usage or any type of heating that would induce vasodilatation that can lead to the tendency to bleed.
Should any condition worsen with the use of an infrared heat system, you should discontinue your sauna use.
TIPS AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING THE SAUNA
1. There is no smoking in the sauna area.
2. For optimal results refrain from using the sauna on a full stomach. Avoid using alcohol, drugs or medications prior to or during a sauna session.
3. For optimal benefits, set your controls to maintain a sauna temperature of 45–60ºC (110ºF–130ºF). Setting higher temperatures may add to personal discomfort with very little therapeutic value.
The sauna should never be set over 65ºC (150ºF).
4. Never SPLASH water on the heaters!
5. Try to avoid direct contacts with the interior surface of the sauna room. Do not apply excess body lotion to your body prior to a sauna session.
6. You will be offered two towels:
Put one folded towel on the seat for perspiration absorption and cushioning.
Use the other one after you take a shower at the end of your sauna session.
You might need an extra towel to wipe off your body surface sweat during the session.
7. As your body becomes more heat conditioned, you may want to increase your sauna session to 45 minutes or longer. Please remember: it is important to remain hydrated. Drink plenty of water prior, during and after your sauna session.
8. After a sauna session sit and relax for at least 3–5 minutes.
9. Children under 16 years are allowed in the sauna if accompanied by an adult.