The benefits of infrared therapy

I’m sure most people have sat in a sauna at some point in their lives. For some this is a warm relaxing experience, for others the traditional dry or wet sauna is too hot and stuffy. You may have found it hard to breathe making it difficult to sit in the sauna for any duration.

Increasingly popular in recent years are the infrared saunas. All saunas have detoxification, relaxation and calorie burning benefits. Infrared may have potentially more, but only if used correctly, which it seems that most people are pretty confused about how to get the most from infrared therapy.

A traditional sauna super heats the air around your body ultimately causing our body temperature to rise. It’s when our temperature rises that good things start to happen. So in a traditional sauna the warmer the temperature, the more effective, but less comfortable it is. This is not the case with infrared therapy, which is a common misconception, for this reason many people are getting little to no benefit beyond relaxation from their current infrared therapies.

You see infrared is a light wave. When infrared light waves penetrate your body they have the potential to do many wondrous things. The effects of infrared are one of the best known methods for heavy metal detoxification. Heavy metals can be linked to anything from various types of cancers all the way to hormonal imbalances that can effect everything from reproduction to day to day concentration and performance. Additionally infrared can exude strong anti-inflammatory effects and stimulate a more dramatic increase in body temperature from the inside out in a far more comfortable environment. Massive amounts of caloric incineration make it a match made in heaven for any fat loss program and the list goes on.

But here’s what many people don’t understand, light waves are affected by heat. The warmer the air the shorter the wavelength, meaning it can’t penetrate the tissues of the body as well causing all these great things to happen. So each time you enter an infrared sauna that’s pre-heated beyond 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit you’ve exponentially reduced it’s effectiveness. The key to maximizing benefits from infrared therapy is to ensure the sauna has been cooled to approximately 90 degrees. You should then be increasing the temperature by about seven to 10 degrees every five to eight minutes. Each time you are allowing the wave to penetrate the tissues, providing more blood flow and circulation allowing the waves to penetrate further. As body temperature stabilizes to the new environment this is the time to increase the temperature again. Effectiveness of infrared therapy is not directly linked to the temperature of the cabin but rather the penetration of the tissues by the infrared waves. If you pay close attention as you are reaching higher temperatures of 127+ degrees there will be a point where you simply seem to sweat more, heating the cabin further will actually not yield an increased volume of sweat. When this happens you are beyond your optimal temperature. Keep in mind the magic number will keep changing depending how frequently you are using the cabin, how well you are hydrating, and how much physiological toxicity you are faced with on a daily basis.

Infrared therapy has amazing potential to improve your health and compliment any weight loss goals you may have. They are becoming so inexpensive it’s a comfort many could justify even having in their home, but then that’s likely only if you know how to use it.

Cabel McElderry is the director of One-to-1 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-341-4041. Also check out for more information.