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Infrared and Traditional Saunas: The Differences

While both infrared saunas and traditional saunas are used to treat muscle, joint injury, and stress, the two therapeutic treatments differ in how they deliver a natural approach to sports and fatigue-related injuries. The traditional sauna powers itself by using wood or electricity. For wood burning saunas, perhaps the most traditional, wood heats a pile of rocks in the room, which in turn are used to radiate heat over an extended period of time. Electric saunas simply use radiant heat coils in a confined space to simulate the sauna experience. Electric saunas are fast and efficient in their ability to heat a room.

Infrared Saunas maintain the basic concept of a traditional sauna, but they utilize a different type of electromagnetic wave to heat the room. As we stated earlier, infrared light is lower in energy. It provides all the same benefits of sunlight, but without the damaging effects of solar radiation and UV light.

Where traditional saunas rely on indirect means of heating like convection heating and conduction heating in order to heat your body, infrared saunas are able to heat your body and muscles simply by emitting energy that your body absorbs.



Is Infrared Heat Safe?

While we mentioned that infrared heat is safer than sunlight, we forgot to mention how ubiquitous it is in our daily lives. Many law enforcement agencies use infrared or thermal imaging to track heat sources. In fact, the human body emits and intakes far infrared heat on a regular basis. The warmth you feel when hovering over your skin is actually infrared heat!

So, you might ask yourself why would someone need to use an infrared sauna if we are constantly exposed to it? Far infrared saunas allow your body to absorb concentrated amounts of infrared heat for specific amounts of time. Infrared energy, although close to microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum, does not heat your body like a microwave would. Infrared waves are effective for warming and healing your body, and there are very few treatments like an infrared sauna that can impart many benefits in just a short, thirty-minute session.

How is a Far Infrared Sauna Better than a Traditional Sauna?

Traditional Saunas rely on heating the air in a room. You then absorb that hot air through contact. This process is called convection and conduction. It is an inefficient way to absorb energy and heat. As a result, it takes longer for a traditional sauna to heat up a room, typically thirty-minutes for an electric sauna and a few hours for a wood-burning sauna. This can wreak havoc on your energy bill if you want to utilize the sauna on a regimented basis.

Traditional saunas also have to be heated at a much higher temperature so that the therapeutic properties can impact your body and muscles. Typical saunas need to operate at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. For some users, a temperature this high can cause even more fatigue, dehydration, and breathing complications.

Infrared Saunas, on the whole, are more energy efficient than traditional saunas, regardless of whether they are wood or electric powered. Infrared saunas don’t rely on convection or conduction, and they use the infrared waves to directly heat your body. As a result, infrared Saunas need less time than traditional saunas to heat up. Infrared saunas only need about 10 or 15 minutes before you are able to use them. Infrared Saunas also operate at a lower temperature than traditional saunas, typically around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is much more comfortable than most people, and few people have difficulty breathing at this temperature compared to a traditional sauna.


Is Far Infrared Sauna Therapy Right for you?

If you have an exercise-related muscle injury, then a far infrared sauna is an excellent way to relieve tension and pain in the muscles. Because far infrared waves penetrate your skin, they warm your muscles directly and can reduce lactic acid build up.

Some infrared sauna manufacturers also report that the far infrared waves can gently vibrate water molecules in your body, which in turn release encapsulated gasses and other toxic materials. The detoxification property of far infrared waves is still being researched, but many users report elevated energy levels after using a far infrared sauna. Far infrared saunas also cause vasodilation in users, which simply means that the capillaries and blood vessels dilate, decreasing blood pressure. While this is common in any environment where you are exposed to heat, far infrared waves are more effective at doing it, and can induce vasodilation at a lower level of heat.

There are also reports that infrared saunas can aid in weight loss and remedy metabolic diseases. While there is limited research into the field, one thing is for sure: infrared waves do not directly burn fat cells. There is some research that has been done that suggests infrared saunas help improve insulin sensitivity and hormonal environments, but there are no authoritative studies that suggest it is a proven method for preventing obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases.


It is important to always check with a medical professional before you decide to use any kind of sauna. Some people have preexisting genetic conditions that make them susceptible to overheating or regulating their body temperature in hot environments. It is also important not to operate a sauna if you have been drinking alcohol or are already fatigued from working out immediately prior to entering the sauna. If you are a new user to the sauna, make sure you start off with a lower temperature. Don’t be afraid to leave the sauna if you are feeling too hot. Lower temperature and shorter periods of time are much more beneficial than passing out due to heat exhaustion in the sauna chamber. After you finish a sauna session, be sure to drink plenty of water and replace your electrolytes with a healthy, balanced meal.

If you are ready to give a far infrared sauna a try, be sure to visit Springs Integrated Health for a free consultation. We are happy to work with you to find an affordable treatment plan that includes far infrared sauna therapy. Give us a call today at 719-301-6649 to schedule your free consultation, or visit our website for more information.

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