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Infrared saunas, relief of physical symptoms and ‘workout benefits’ for patients

Solo Portable Far Infrared Sauna

Additional touted benefits by manufacturers of infrared saunas include better sleep and relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, and relief from sore muscles and joint pain

Because of various diseases or mobility issues, some chiropractic patients are unable to exercise like those without these kinds of problems. Recently, some studies have indicated that for these patients and others, using an infrared saunas can give them the equivalent of a regular workout.

But is this true? Can patients get the equivalent of a workout via the use of infrared saunas?

Studies and applications

Although some studies have shown that the body response can be similar — and some doctors of chiropractic are already using this to help everyone from NFL player to regular patients, the answer now is more like “perhaps, maybe.”

Donna Perillo, DC, MS, NMD, CNS, of Chiropractic Healing Center of NJ, in Pompton Plains, N.J., explains the benefits this way:

Infrared saunas: benefits resembling a workout?

  • Infrared saunas use light to create heat while a traditional sauna uses heat.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, infrared saunas (IS) can cause reactions similar to moderate exercise, including sweating and increased heart rate.
  • IS utilizes a lower temperature than traditional saunas, which is safer for people who can’t tolerate high heat.
  • It may be beneficial for chronic conditions like; dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure, headaches, and diabetes
  • Also, IS can potentially provide many health benefits including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and increased athletic performance 
  • Possible mechanisms include boosted nitric oxide, a vasodilator which helps lower blood pressure, beneficial changes in the immune system and hormonal (endocrine) systems may increase the metabolic rate and assist in removing toxins.   
  • The consensus is that more research is necessary to confirm the outcomes of the research available.

Sauna comparisons

“These saunas use infrared panels instead of conventional heat to easily penetrate human tissue, heating up your body before heating up the air,” explains physical therapist, Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP, speaking to Healthline. Eisenstadt goes on to say that the IS environment is more tolerable than wet saunas, allowing individuals to stay in the sauna longer while increasing core body temperature, inducing impacts that burns calories at a faster rate.

Other touted benefits by manufacturers of infrared saunas include better sleep and relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, and relief from sore muscles and joint pain such as arthritis. Patients with ongoing conditions should consult their health care provider before undergoing IS sessions.

References from Mayo clinic:

  1. Laukkanen T, et al. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age and Ageing. In press.
  2. Laukkanen T, et al. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015;175:542.
  3. Kanji G, et al. Efficacy of regular sauna bathing for chronic tension-type headache: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2015;21:103.
  4. Krause M, et al. Heat shock proteins and heat therapy for type 2 diabetes: Pros and cons. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2015;18:374.
  5. Tei C, et al. Waon therapy for managing chronic heart failure. Circulation. 2016;80:827.
  6. Oosterveld FG, et al. Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Clinical Rheumatology. 2009;28:29.
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/infrared-sauna/faq-20057954

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