Everyone needs to unwind. Yes, including you. Relaxation as a part of health and fitness is gaining momentum. And for a change, this is a positive trend. From sauna cleansing, mindfulness meditation to muscle relaxation, and at-home massage - all are now grabbing headlines over gym bikes and health supplements. In a world of meeting deadlines, and hard-hitting intense workouts, mind-body relaxation, and recovery are slowly taking center stage. And alongside mindfulness, another form of an ancient relaxation technique is making headway - cleansing, and detox with sauna blankets. But are the new infrared sauna blankets really as good as the original sauna? What are the differences and how similar are the benefits?
Traditional Sauna Vs Infrared SaunaBefore you jump on the bandwagon with celebrities like Lady Gaga and social media influencers and order a sauna blanket, learn the differences between the traditional sauna and the new infrared sauna beds and blankets.
Traditional SaunaTraditional saunas have been used for centuries to detox and relax the body, as well as the mind. The old-style sauna used a log cabin with a firepit and rocks laid on top of them. Once the rocks were heated, they would throw a bucket of water on the rocks, creating a huge cloud of steam that would fill the cabin. The high heat and humidity would serve numerous health benefits like body cleansing. This was great for mental and physical wellbeing. Modern-day ‘traditional’ saunas use the same principle of steam and heat, but instead of a firepit, they use steam generators and a glass enclosure. Both offer the same wonderful health benefits:
- Stress Adaptation
- Brain Health
- Body cleansing and detox
- Cardiovascular health
- Hormonal regulation
- Mental Health
- Chronic pain -relief
- Relaxation and mood improvement
- Better sleep
Infrared SaunaInfrared sauna and sauna blankets are only a modern spin on the traditional saunas. They apply the same philosophy of heat therapy to prompt sweat and detox while having a relaxing experience. There is no steam here, hence the only humidity comes from the perspiration. Infrared rays work to heat up the body but without increasing the temperature of the room.
There are 2 types of infrared saunas - far-infrared and near-infrared. Far infrareds do not penetrate the skin and tissues deep within. Whereas, near-infrared can travel through the skin and to the tissues and are claimed to be more effective.
Different ApproachesWhile the philosophy and results might be the same, they both use different approaches. The traditional sauna places you in a heated room with hot and humid air to kickstart the body’s natural cooling process. This brings the blood closer to the skin, opens the pores, and releases sweat. Infrared sauna blankets emit light at a certain wavelength that your body absorbs.
Research & StudiesWhile the health benefits of the traditional sauna have been well documented, there are not many studies done on the health benefits of infrared saunas. So even though the potential benefits of the sauna blanket are just as wonderful as the traditional ones, we still need science-backed confirmation. That said, the little research done so far does indicate some potential benefits. Evidence points that sweat-inducing therapy treatment might help with heart functions when used regularly (five times a week). They may also be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and inflammation. Another small study suggests that it can also help athletes recover from post-workout DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
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