Many of us are all too familiar with the aches and pains that come with the cold season here in Kentucky – both physically and psychologically.
What’s less-common knowledge is that infrared sauna therapy is an easy way to relieve a wide range of the symptoms we experience during these times. This deeply penetrating heatwave treatment can promote everything from mental relaxation and improved sleep to immune health and pain relief in our joints and muscles (arthritic ouchies begone!).
Infra-huh? A scientific briefing:
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, here’s a quick run-down on exactly how IR Sauna works. It’ll help the rest make a lot more sense…
Infrared light is….
Infrared (IR) is a type of light similar to ultraviolet (UV) light. IR light has a frequency just above visible and UV light. These forms of light have been observed as safe for the human body – in moderation, of course (see: wearing sunscreen on the beach).
In infrared saunas, far-infrared light penetrates 2-4 inches into the body and generates internal heat, resulting in whole-body hyperthermia (WBH).
What is Infrared Sauna Therapy?
IR Sauna therapy is a method of WBH treatment for numerous ailments that originated in Japan in the 1960s. Similar to their wooden Finnish ancestors, IR saunas come with a wide range of therapeutic benefits – however, because they heat the body directly, this method allows us to receive these benefits more efficiently, cleanly, and cost-effectively than ever.
Sounds freaky… is it safe?
Yes! Infrared saunas are safe, natural, non-invasive, and painless.
Our sauna uses far-infrared light. Far infrared waves are thermal. In other words, we experience this type of infrared radiation every day in the form of heat! The heat that we feel from sunlight, a fire, a radiator or a warm sidewalk is infrared. The temperature-sensitive nerve endings in our skin can detect the difference between inside body temperature and outside skin temperature. Our body knows just what to do with this kind of EM radiation.
That should just about do it for the “how”. Now for the “why”…
Using infrared sauna in the winter: 5 essential benefits
There are so many that it would be silly to list them all here (although they are all on our infrared sauna FAQ page), but here’s a few we think you should know as Winter nears.
Reduced anxiety, stress, and depression
Raise your hand if there’s just something about the holiday season that kinda makes us wish the human species were bear-like hibernators, all cozied up and quiet with nothing to do but eat and snooze? When January finally comes and we’re done with the presents, in-laws, parties, and whatever else we “put a smile on” for throughout December, there’s a teeeeeensy tiny inward sigh of relief, isn’t there? Yep? Us too.
Good news – Infrared saunas have been shown to optimize the production and reception of the natural antidepressants in our brain — dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. It’s also been shown they help to lower the level of cortisol in the body, the hormone released in times of stress and tension. This year, at least once, try ending your day with a sauna session and leave the bourbon ‘nog with ice cream for another day.
Gotta be honest, this whole triple-virus thing is.. Uh.. more than a little stressful to think about – especially considering all the travel we do during the holidays. We hope you’re doing your best to keep your immune system covered, and think IR saunas are pretty important in that process.
Each time you take a sauna session there is a subtle increase in body temperature, which boosts the production of infection-fighting white blood cells (leukocytes) by your bone marrow and killer T-cells by your thymus. This process has a hugely beneficial effect on your immune system.
Lymphatic Health: detox, bloating, and weight loss
There’s a reason why humans tend to gain weight in the winter. Sure, there’s the whole thanksgiving-christmahanukwanzakaa-new year’s indulgences thing, but look around, everybody’s doing it. The squirrels, the bunnies, the bears – every landfaring animal that doesn’t migrate to warmer climes in the winter tends to put on a little holiday chub. And we think that’s okay.
That being said, something very special about humans is that our brains don’t always pick up the body’s cues that “enough is enough”, and sometimes our vibrant pallets just speak louder. In the essence of health and balance, let’s talk about weight loss.
Infrared therapy helps eliminate excess moisture, salt and subcutaneous fat from the body. It also uses up energy to burn fat; at 109.4°F, fat becomes water soluble and can be dissolved and disposed of by sweating. With it, metals and minerals that don’t belong in the system are removed from the body as well!
You can burn more calories sitting in a sauna than jogging on a treadmill, so you can lose weight while also detoxifying your entire body (although we’d recommend you also check out some movement classes so your joints and muscles can stay happy too).
Skin repair: eczema, acne, psoriasis, and dry/itchy cold-weather skin
This part goes hand-in-hand with the Lymphatic Health stuff. As the heat encourages the flushing of excess oils and minerals through the pores, that which previously blocked our pores can finally move through. This cleansing of subcutaneous buildup allows the sebaceous gland to create and release sebum, our skin’s natural moisturizer, which actually prevents acne from developing when dead skin cells and other skin gunk aren’t in the way.
Moreover, regular sauna use can help control skin inflammation and promote rejuvenation of skin cells, minimizing the constant itch that is often associated with eczema and psoriasis.
UM, YOU’RE HOT
Until you know the experience of walking out of a sauna into the icy outdoors thinking, “HAHA! I win this time, Jack Frost!” as steam rolls off your shoulders, you have yet to truly appreciate infrared saunas. For those of us who find the cold unbearable, this is an experience that could honestly bring one to tears with relief and joy. Sure, this is anecdotal evidence, but still an essential draw toward maintaining a regular sauna routine through the cold season.
Ready to give it a go?
Check out our Infrared Sauna FAQ & registration page to see the full run-down of IR sauna facts, benefits, and the year-round package and single-session rates and special winter offerings in the Infrared Sauna right here at Centered Holistic Health.
Infrared sauna therapy can be as simple, enjoyable, and beneficial as any other self-care practice. If you’d have any questions about the information we’ve provided or just want to chat about winter wellness in general, we’d love to hear from you! All of our contact info and hours of business are on the bottom of this page.
Assistant Director, Yoga Instructor, Copywriter
Jennifer Little is the Assistant Director of Centered, leads Ecstatic Dance and Somatic Yoga, and loves to write. She enjoys poetry as much as academic and journalistic writing and is always looking for opportunities to assist in editing and original work. Contact her for writing requests or any other reason at firstname.lastname@example.org.