They’re all the rage on the wellness scene but does an infrared sauna actually work?
“I love hitting the infrared sauna after a workout. It’s great for detoxifying while rejuvenating my body”.
These are not my words, they belong the woman who’s defied the laws of aging (and bad hair days). I’m talking about Jennifer Aniston who’s one of the many people who are infrared sauna enthusiasts.
Infrared saunas use infrared lamps to heat your body from the inside out. Going inside one is compared to sitting in the sun, but without being exposed to harmful rays.
They differ from a regular sauna in that they’re not as hot – they also operate at about half the temperature that regular saunas operate, making it a more bearable experience. They also use heaters, not coal so the air is dry and not wet and humid.
Red light therapy is nothing new. In fact, in 1909 Niels Ryberg Finsen won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his explorations of the therapeutic effects of light and also found that red light in particular could be beneficial in treating diseases and health issues.
Infrared saunas are just another method of using light heat therapy. Another way is by purchasing infrared lamps, which can be used on areas that have been injured, for muscle spasms or wounds. We’ve used a light like this one on strained muscles, as well as scars. Acupuncturists also use infrared lamps during therapy to help penetrate and relax the muscles.
So why should you try an infrared Sauna?
Aside from being relaxing, infrared saunas have other benefits
1. Pain Relief
Like infrared lights, infrared saunas can help treat muscle aches and joint pain. Infrared heat penetrates tissue, joints, and muscles to relieve minor aches to chronic pain conditions like arthritis.
2. Weight Loss
The heat from infrared saunas causes your core temperature to rise, thus elevating your heart rate much like when you exercise. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn up to 600 calories.
3. Improve Circulation and Blood Pressure
Due to the heat, you sweat more when using an infrared sauna. This increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure and helps circulation.
4. Improve Skin
Heat therapy can help with skin issues like acne and eczema. It can help reduce wrinkles, make your skin look radiant and improve skin tone and elasticity. Infrared light can also help treat scars and make them appear less visible; as well as treat burns.
5. Make you happy
Yes, sweating it out in a wooden box can make you happier. Infrared lights release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins – your feel good hormones. This is also why they’re particularly useful during winter when you don’t get enough sunshine. Light therapy is used to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Infrared heat stimulates the detoxification process by raising your core temperature and penetrating you skin tissue. All this helps improve your natural metabolic processes.
Do Infrared Saunas actually work?
To test the above claims, we headed to Skin Sense Day Spa in Rivonia for a 30 minute session in their infrared room.
We arrived, changed into silky red “boob tube” dress gown contraptions topped with delicious fluffy robes and headed down to a room in which stood a wooden box. We were given water to take with us so we could hydrate and were told to sit and relax for the next 30 minutes.
The infrared sauna experience was pleasant. The room was hot but not stuffy. It’s a dry sauna so you’re not sitting in puddles of water, rather on dry wooden benches. It was relaxing, but after 30 minutes I was very ready to leave.
I exited with more of a glow than a sweat. I would not count that as exercise, nor do I believe I burnt any more calories than I would’ve sleeping. I’m no skinnier than when I entered and my skin has subsequently taken a turn for the unclear. There’s two ways of looking at it – either the skin improvements claim is false or it works so well that it flushes toxins deep from your pores which causes breakouts. I await the glowing skin I’m certain is days away.
I did however, have a deep eight hour sleep (8! On a weeknight!). It was the deepest sleep I’ve had for a long time and I attribute this purely to the sauna.
The next day I woke up very rested, but with an extreme case of DOMS from a leg and ab heavy workout the day before. It hurt to walk. Despite the pain, I was able to do a speed run on pace, so the sauna surely helped something. I’m certain of it.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, If you have R65 and 30 minutes to spare, it’s a pleasant way of relaxing. You can book an infrared sauna at Skin Sense Day Spa here
If you want something more targeted and more affordable per treatment, rather buy an infrared lamp like this one which you can use over and over again. It’s more beneficial in terms of helping strained muscles, and helping heal scars and burns. And if you’re a runner or biker who’s met face to pavement more than once, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Have you tried an infrared sauna? Share your experience below.
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