Infrared heat saunas differ from traditional steam saunas in several important ways. One of the best features of infrared saunas is that they heat the body directly. A traditional sauna heats the ambient air first and then through heat exchange, heats the body. Infrared saunas directly heat the body so they do not feel as hot as a traditional sauna. Heat intolerant clients can usually use an infrared sauna because the ambient air is not excessively hot.
Infrared saunas are dry while traditional saunas are humid. Infrared heat is preferable for people with breathing issues or who do not like humid environments. The perception of heat in an infrared sauna is also less because of the lack of humidity (think dry heat!).
One of the best benefits of infrared heat is its ability to heat the body directly at a lower temperature. As the body’s core temperature increases, it triggers processes such as detoxification, improved blood circulation and stress reduction. This is technically referred to as hyperthermic conditioning and it occurs when body temperature is increased over a short period of time. This type of conditioning results in the following improvements in athletic performance.
Endurance boost: This benefit, though not limited to athletes, is important to improve overall health. Exercising is an excellent way to build endurance but a session in the sauna can do the same. As the temperature rises inside the sauna, your body acclimates to the heat, prompting increased blood flow to the heart and muscles. Over time, your body becomes more efficient in regulating temperature, enabling it to perform better, especially during exercise.
Muscle Growth: Infrared saunas subject your body to heat stress. In response, your body releases heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins help in degrading free radicals and repairing damaged cells in the body. The more available proteins there are in the body, the greater the chances for muscle repair and growth.
Muscle Recovery: Tight muscles are common in athletes. Extensive workouts, such as weightlifting, boxing, or other sports can even lead to muscle tension and inflammation. Infrared saunas help in releasing muscle tension and easing pain. Blood flow is also increased, allowing the muscles to receive oxygen – which is vital to muscle recovery.
Mental Relaxation: This is by far the most commonly seen, and scientifically proven, benefit of infrared sauna use. Athletes can benefit greatly from an infrared sauna session, which will help them to relax after a stressful workout.