Deliberate heat exposure or therapeutic sweating for purification, cleansing, and healing is an ancient practice observed for thousands of years across many cultures, from the Russian banya, the sweat lodges of my ancestors, the American Indians, the Turkish Hammam, or the saunas of the Finnish. These structures were generally heated with hot stones, wood stoves, or hot embers. With the arrival of electricity, the first Infrared Sauna, using the incandescent light bulb, was created by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, most noted for his invention of Kelloggs's cornflakes.
What is an Infrared Sauna?
An infrared sauna uses infrared lamps and electromagnetic waves, instead of steam or flame-stoked heat, to heat the body on a cellular level versus the entire air inside the sauna. Infrared light, one of the invisible spectrums of light produced by the sun, makes your skin feel warm when you are out in the sun and readily absorbs these wavelengths.
Temperatures in most infrared saunas typically fall between 110-135º Fahrenheit. A traditional sauna temperature usually falls between 150- 195º Fahrenheit. Because of the lower temperatures, an infrared sauna can be more comfortable for people while delivering the same sort of benefits.
What are the benefits of using an infrared sauna or deliberately exposing your body to high heat temperatures? Here are our top health benefits of regular infrared sauna use at Bull City Soles.
Benefit #1 - Pain Relief
Most people naturally gravitate towards heat as it's inherently comforting when we are hurting. The heat increases the blood flow to the body, increasing oxygen and nutrients that can help speed up the healing process and naturally relax muscles, which can work to decrease some types of pain sensations.
Clinical trials show daily use of an infrared sauna reduces chronic low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammation. Regular sauna use decreases C-reactive protein (CRP), a leading marker of inflammation. Although inflammation is a natural body response to healing, sometimes the process gets stuck in the stress response and can put the body into a state of chronic inflammation, which can lead to pain and other health issues like Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS.
By reducing chronic inflammation and pain, the body can ease out of the stress response and back into relaxation to facilitate healing on a cellular level.
If you're already getting massage and bodywork for pain relief, adding 20-40 minutes of infrared sauna therapy before or after your session could increase the pain relief benefits of your bodywork even more!
Benefit #2 - Improve Sleep
The feelings of relaxation and well-being associated with sauna sessions have been shown to also help with depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep. The natural release of muscle tension experienced in a sauna triggers the brain, which signals the body that it's ready to go to sleep. Combined with pain relief and deep relaxation, regular sauna use is an excellent solution to better sleep without medications.
"Good things come to those who sweat."
Benefit #3 - Immunity
Regular sauna use increases your internal core temperature by exposing your body to heat stress, mimicking the effects of having a fever, which gives your immune system a little "workout." A more robust immune system decreases the risk of the flu and reduces viral replication, cold incidence, and duration.
Benefit #4 - Recovery and Endurance
Infrared sauna use helps your body acclimate to the heat; a few studies show it builds endurance. It stands to reason that sauna use also boosts recovery as it improves your cardiovascular system and the production of new capillaries, also known as capillarization. Capillarization enhances blood flow to muscles, improves oxygen delivery, and produces hormones like heat shock proteins (HSPs) which help repair and restore muscle tissue, and growth hormones, which help to regulate muscle and bone growth.
Benefit #5 - Heart Health
Infrared sauna use can boost heart health and lower blood pressure. Researchers in an NIH study equated regular sauna use to moderate exercise because it causes the natural body responses of sweating, vasodilation, increased heart rate, and cardiac output. So consistent sauna use could be highly beneficial to sedentary individuals restricted due to various medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis or cardiovascular or respiratory problems.
Other health benefits of Infrared Sauna
Some evidence supports the use of infrared therapy to stop the growth of specific cancer cells. Heat Shock Proteins, activated by Infrared Sauna use, can inhibit tumor growth, which can help keep cancer from spreading. Other benefits to regular use of an infrared sauna are that it improves skin, supports detoxification, helps treat diabetes, reduces cellulite, boosts weight loss, and improves mental health.
Infrared Sauna Tips
For your first infrared sauna at Bull City Soles, bring a towel and something to put your wet swimsuit or shorts inside. Intense sweating may occur, and you may need a comb or brush for your hair if you plan to return to work. We have a blow dryer if needed. Here are some additional tips for your best-infrared sauna experience:
Shower before a sauna, and don't use perfumes or moisturizers that clog the pores so that the skin will sweat more efficiently.
Remove all jewelry.
Stay hydrated and start drinking water before your session. For every 10 minutes in the sauna, you should drink 16 oz of water to stay properly hydrated.
Consider using electrolytes and salt to replenish the electrolytes lost in sweating.
Wear a bathing suit or wrap a towel around you while in the sauna.
Choose lower temperatures to start with and acclimate yourself to higher temps. Start with shorter sessions, 10-15 minutes, and work your way up to 20-30 minute sessions.
Listen to meditative music or enjoy the silence while in the sauna. Sometimes, the best stress relief is just a few minutes of quiet away from technology and people.
Please don't use your cell phone or other devices in the sauna, as it may damage them. This includes Airpods or headphones.
Don't sleep in a sauna to avoid dehydration and hyperthermia.
Do not combine alcohol and sauna use. Alcohol is dehydrating and dangerous when combined with sauna use which may increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
Bring or wear loose-fitting clothing, such as linen or cotton clothing, that's breathable so that after your sauna, you don't have to squeeze into a tight pair of leggings or blue jeans once you're all relaxed.
Depending on your goals, regular sauna use up to four times a week is recommended for the best results. Cautions and Contraindications for Sauna Use
Most people have no issues with regular sauna use, but if you take medications or have specific medical health issues, consult your doctor before sauna use. The most common conditions listed below should not use the sauna or proceed with care:
Hemophiliacs / Individuals Prone To Bleeding
Fever & Insensitivity to Heat
Pacemakers or Defibrillators
FAQs about Infrared Sauna
Is it OK to use infrared saunas every day?
It is OK to use an infrared sauna every day; just be sure to stay hydrated and self-aware of your body's needs.
Does an infrared sauna make you look younger?
Regular sauna use improves the look of wrinkles, clears skin, and improves overall skin appearance, including softness, smoothness, elasticity, and firmness.
Do infrared saunas really help you lose weight?
While a sauna is healthy for your body and may help you lose some water weight short term, it's not an effective way to lose weight.
Why am I so tired after the infrared sauna?
Many processes are going on during a sauna session, so naturally, the body will be tired from the work it's doing. The relaxation response to sweating in a sauna can make you feel tired at the end of the day. Dehydration can be a side effect of sweating in the sauna, and one of the effects of dehydration is tiredness.
Does infrared sauna affect hormones?
Regular sauna use has been shown to affect the endocrine system, which uses hormones to control and coordinate your body's internal metabolism (or homeostasis), growth and development, and response to environmental factors, injury, and stress. Various studies have shown sauna use affects Noradrenaline, also called noradrenaline, the antidiuretic hormone, growth hormones, prolactin, cortisol, ACTH, and immunoreactive beta-endorphin in the blood may also increase.
What should you not do after an infrared sauna?
It would be best if you didn't drink alcohol before or after sauna use. It could be dangerous, and a few risks are lightheadedness, fainting (and heatstroke), headaches, nausea, or heart failure. Also, take your time after a sauna to enjoy the moment, and don't rush back to the hecticness of life.
Is infrared sauna anti-inflammatory?
Infrared sauna decreases inflammation by increasing oxygen in the blood and optimizing circulation, and by encouraging relaxation, it also reduces the inflammatory response of chronic stress.
Should you shower after an infrared sauna?
It is recommended to shower after a sauna. We do not have a shower on the premises, but you can do a brisk towel rub down until you return home, or we have a cold plunge if you want to experience contrast therapy to cool down or for other health benefits.
Where to Find an Infrared Sauna Near Me
Bull City Soles is conveniently located in north Durham, at 3101 Guess Road, Suite B, Durham, NC. Our Radiant Health Infrared corner sauna can comfortably fit two average size people, gets up to 149º Fareinheit, has the lowest EMF readings(0.3mG) in the industry, and is made with zero VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Infrared Sauna sessions may be scheduled here for an individual session, you can purchase a membership for unlimited use, packages to use on an as-needed basis or as a gift to someone you love.
Schedule your next sauna session for a 20 or 30-minute session; add it before a barefoot massage or Rolfing session to prepare your body for the ultimate level of healing, or combine it with a Cold Plunge for optimal recovery! Contact us at 919-477-9887 if you have more questions or would like to book your next Infrared sauna session at Bull City Soles for optimal wellness! Stay tuned for info on our Cold Plunge.