Unlike a traditional sauna, infrared saunas don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they use infrared lamps (that use electromagnetic radiation) to warm your body directly; only about 20 percent of the heat goes to heat the air and the other 80 percent directly heats your body.
These saunas use infrared panels instead of conventional heat to easily penetrate human tissue, heating up your body before heating up the air. An infrared sauna can operate at a lower temperature (usually between 40˚C and 60˚C) than a traditional sauna, which is typically between 65˚C and 80˚C.
The heat generated from infrared penetrates more deeply than the warmed air of a traditional sauna. This allows you to experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature. This environment is more tolerable, which allows you to stay in the sauna longer while increasing your core body temperature by two to three degrees.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A SAUNA?
The supposed benefits of using an infrared sauna are similar to those experienced with a traditional sauna. These include:
• Better sleep • Relaxation • Detoxification • Weight loss • Relief from sore muscles • Relief from joint pain such as arthritis • Clear and tighter skin • Improved circulation • Help for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SAUNA
Drink water. Make sure you’re hydrated before going into an infrared sauna. Drink a glass of water before your session. You can also bring water into the sauna, especially if you’re sensitive to higher heats.
Choose the temperature. The average temperature for an infrared sauna ranges from 40˚C to 60˚C, with beginners starting out at the lower end and more experienced users at the higher end. If this is your first time, start with 40˚C. You may want to stay at this temperature for a few sessions. You can always increase the temperature each session until you reach 60˚C.
Length of time. For first-time users, start with 10 to 15 minutes. You can add time each session until you reach the suggested time of 20 to 30 minutes. Saunas come with a timer, so make sure to set it. You don’t want to stay in there too long and risk becoming dehydrated.
Clothing. How you dress is your choice. Some people will wear bathing suits, while others prefer to go in naked.
What you can do while in the sauna? Relax, read, meditate or listen to music. Just don’t go to sleep.
When your session is done, it’s suggested that you take your time and let your body cool down. Once cooled down, feel free to take a shower or bath. Just make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Most facilities that offer infrared sauna treatments recommend using the sauna three to four days per week. If you are healthy and tolerate the four days, you can use the sauna daily.
BEFORE OR AFTER MASSAGE?
Many massage therapists agree that using a sauna before the massage is better than the other way around. That’s because a sauna warms up and stretches muscles, preparing them for massage therapy. The sauna also softens muscle tissue and when muscles are softer and already warm this allows the massage therapist to give you a deeper and more effective massage with less pain to tense areas.
Remember that the sauna will dehydrate you if you forget to drink water before, during and after the session. It’s important to stay hydrated to feel good but also to gain the most benefit out of both sauna and massage together.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Avoid using an infrared sauna if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
If you feel ill or have a fever, it’s best to wait to use the sauna until you’re feeling better.
Using an infrared sauna will cause you to sweat a lot, so you may feel lightheaded when you stand up. If this happens, make sure you get up slowly and sit down once you leave the sauna. Drink water immediately after finishing your session and wait for your body to cool down before doing anything else.
In extreme cases, some people may experience overheating (heat stroke and heat exhaustion) or dehydration.
If you have any health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or are under medical care, get cleared by your doctor before your first session. Even though infrared saunas have been found to be fairly safe, you don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your health and safety.