By: Dr. Aaron M. Flickstein, Emeritus D.C., author of the widely-quoted paper “Infrared Thermal System for Whole Body Regenerative Radian Therapy”
For centuries, people have experienced the health and wellness benefits of far infrared heat. Today’s infrared body wraps utilize far infrared technology and state of the art engineering that allows for full body immersion to achieve weight loss, pain relief, detoxification and relaxation. In this article, we will delve further into infrared and its effects to the body.
What are infrared body wraps?
Infrared body wraps can come in many types. Some are made for wrapping only segments of your body such as the midsection, arms, thighs, etc. and cannot provide total immersion in infrared waves, while others provide a true whole body immersion in infrared. Whole body immersion is able to induce 3 to 5 times more sweat volume than in regular exercise by raising the body’s core temperature.
How do infrared body wraps work?
By dispersing infrared rays from the body wrap system into the body, the infrared heats the body’s tissue to a depth of one and a half inches. Clients can enjoy safe, gentle heating that penetrates very deeply, allowing the body to produce an abundance of beneficial sweat.
“One of the reasons FIR [Far Infra-Red] has beneficial results in a variety of injuries and chronic illness is the ability of FIR waves to remove toxins, which are often the core of many health problems. Toxins in our body appear in water as clumps or globules, and blood circulation becomes blocked, and cellular energy is impaired. However, when the energy from FIR is applied to these water molecules containing toxins, the water begins to vibrate, releasing the encapsulated gases and other toxic material back into the bloodstream where they are removed naturally by the body’s normal detoxification process” (Dr. Toshiko Yamazaki, MD, “The Science of Far Infrared Therapies”).
Why and how are they effective?
The secret to an infrared body wrap’s effectiveness lies in the effective delivery of deeply penetrating heat energy into the body. Because sweating is a very energy consuming process that requires calories, you can generate the calorie consumption of a very heavy workout using an infrared body wrap and produce 300 to 500 percent more sweat. The sweat generated from an infrared body wrap is similar to sweat found only in exercisers training for marathon-level events. By using an infrared body wrap, you can sweat out body fat using huge amounts of energy with no risks of exercise-induced injuries.
What benefits can they provide clients?
Weight loss, detoxification, skin rejuvenation, pain relief and relaxation have all been reported when total infrared immersion is experienced, Not all of these benefits need multiple session to be seen. For instance, detoxification and pain relief happen after just one session..
Far infrared heat can help with pain relief by: relaxing muscle spasms, quickly draining over-tensed muscles from inflammation, directly calming pain receptors and nerves. (Melzack and Wall, Gate Theory of Pain).
Far infrared can produce changes that affect the biochemistry of inflammation to help reduce swelling and inflammation in the body. For example, infrared can cause your brain to relax tense vessels. Far infrared can engage almost every one of your body parts directly and bring more blood flow into the rest of your body indirectly, causing swelling and inflammation to subside. Overall, infrared can help rapidly reduce swelling by eliminating inflammation quickly and decreasing swelling related pain.
The profound pain relief from FIR immersion can be drastic. Far infrared can decrease joint stiffness directly and is helpful in allowing joints to move more freely, whether recently injured or chronically inflamed. It can relieve muscle spasms, which have long been observed to reduce through the use of heat. Far infrared heat can be used to reset the nerves of the sensory system found within all muscles and tendons and calm them down, resulting in pain relief.
Infrared has also been observed to greatly boost weight loss. It turns out that sweating alone is a very calorie consuming activity. In Guyton's Textbook of Medical Physiology, we find that producing one gram of sweat requires 0.586 kcal. "A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna while a heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600-800 kcal with no adverse effects. In comparison to a hot air sauna, infrared immersion can generate 3-5 times more sweat and calorie burn because infrared is able to penetrate the body directly. Moreover, infrared induced sweat has up to seven times the dissolved fat, cholesterol and toxins versus in regular non-infrared sweat” (Guyton, Textbook of Medical Physiology).
Is infrared heat safe?
A: Infrared heat is as safe as a mother warming her infant or one cuddling with another person. The heat we feel is actually infrared energy.
For example, premature babies have a tough time generating enough body heat to keep warm, so they are placed in special enclosures that use infrared heating to warm the baby but not the air.
While we think we see most light with our eyes, we can also feel infrared; the frequencies are in fact longer and less energetic than visible light, which is what we see outside everyday. The sun outputs more than half its energy as infrared heat, so when the clouds block the sun, you feel colder as the sun’s infrared is temporarily obscured. You’ll then start to feel warm again immediately after the cloud clears your view of the sun - that’s infrared heat.
What is the difference between an infrared body wrap and a sauna?
A sauna is a box in which you reside that has infrared emitters in the walls. It also heats the air you breathe. Saunas are mostly used while seated. The original Finnish style sauna uses hot air to achieve the heating, but the air is hot and can be uncomfortable to breathe in.
On the other hand, an infrared body wrap is like a warm blanket with walls emitting infrared. An infrared body wrap is much more comfortable to use, allowing you to recline and relax. Most importantly, it allows you to breathe room temperature air while your body sweats during a 30-60 minute session.
The benefits of far infrared range from weight loss to chronic pain reduction. Advanced technology has made far infrared accessible through infrared body wraps, making it easy to integrate to a health regime and achieve a well-balanced lifestyle.