Reducing Muscle Soreness with Infrared Therapy: Get Back in the Gym Quicker!
Over the last 10 years, the fitness industry has seen a massive increase in popularity and is projected to continue to grow for an indefinite amount of time . With this surge in health awareness, gym memberships have also skyrocketed. And since more people are hitting the gym, that means more of you are experiencing the side-effect of getting yoked: the dreaded muscle soreness you feel the day after a good workout; a.k.a. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.
We don’t know about you, but to us, sometimes muscle soreness can feel good because it’s a positive indicator that you’ve created microscopic tears in the muscles, which leads to growth (Note: Muscle soreness is not mandatory for muscle growth) . Yet sometimes that soreness can be crippling; often stopping the common person from continuing their daily gym regimen (especially after a good leg day). As you can imagine - or even experienced - this can be overly frustrating, particularly if you’re trying to be beach-body ready by the summer or if you’re an athlete who needs to stay on their A-game.
Let’s be honest, you pushing yourself at the gym isn’t going to stop or slow down just because you’re getting too sore. So, what can we do to reduce the inevitable pain?
Traditional Methods to Reduce DOMS
There are multiple techniques that people use to try and lessen the effects of muscle soreness. Some of these methods include stretching and/or warming up the muscles with a light exercise before a workout. But, “…previous studies have reported the ineffectiveness of stretching exercises in preventing DOMS and that these exercises could compromise performance and increase the rate of injury.”  Light warm-up exercises have also been researched on how well it combats DOMS. Ayoola Aiyegbusi and others who work at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital have said that “…a number of studies have been carried out on the effect of warm-up exercises in the management of DOMS but there are conflicting reports of its efficacy in ameliorating the symptoms associated with it.”
 Now, whether you like to stretch or warm-up is entirely a personal choice, and with the number of studies suggesting that both serve virtually no purpose, it’s more than likely, “…warming up is to prepare mentally and physically for your chosen activity.”  Continue to do both if that’s part of your routine; just be aware that it’s more of a psychological boost than a physiological one. However, there is another promising form of therapy that’s showing spectacular results when negating the effects of DOMS.
There’s a reason many gyms incorporate some form of heat therapy into their locker rooms, which is typically a dry sauna. Not only do saunas offer detoxification as a benefit, but the heat is commonly used to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness .
The issue with public saunas arises when you consider that you’re sharing a sweatbox with complete strangers. When you think about it, what should be a therapeutic experience turns into an unsanitary encounter where you’re constantly trying to avoid rubbing sweaty shoulders with random people. Sometimes, proper sauna etiquette can be completely thrown out the window.
In fact, one of our JNH Lifestyle employees, Alex, had relayed his experience when he used a sauna at his gym. An individual took it upon himself to rub Vicks onto the heater, thus infusing the cabin air with menthol and making it painful for everyone to breathe. Now, this would have been perfectly fine for a private sauna, but for a public one, that’s a big breach of acceptable social norms. Alex never used a public sauna again.
But you shouldn’t have to miss out on a heat therapy session just because you value your personal space. Luckily, over the past few years, there’s been a spike in popularity over in-home personal infrared saunas. These, unlike traditional saunas, offer infrared heat therapy. This popular form of heat therapy has additional benefits that you don’t get from conventional saunas.
Infrared Therapy and How It Can Reduce DOMS
An example of vasodilation Infrared therapy is used for a surplus of reasons. A few examples include its effectiveness “…in the treatment of muscle or joint pain including muscle spasm and stiffness.”  Now there’s research showing that infrared waves can fight DOMS after a workout. “Treatment with IRR [infrared radiation] immediately after the inducement of DOMS resulted in a significant reduction in pain and muscle soreness…” . The quote is taken from this specific study also states that the decrease in pain and muscle soreness by infrared therapy can be credited to the painkilling benefits of the heat therapy it replicates, which initiates vasodilation and increases blood flow .
This increase in blood flow aids in the healing of tissue by “…supplying protein, nutrients, and oxygen at the site of injury…” . This means that when you push yourself at the gym and feel a burning sensation in the muscle group you’re targeting, tiny tears are being created in the muscle fibers. Your body recognizes that these tears need to be repaired and does its best to do so. You can greatly support your body with these repairs by participating in infrared therapy, which increases the diameter of your veins, thus allowing more blood to flow freely. This blood, which is carrying nutrients, can then more easily access your muscles and reduce the pain of DOMS.
Infrared therapy is an amazing form of treatment, with people slowly but surely realizing its remarkable benefits. If you’re interested in having this therapeutic technology in the comfort of your own home, then we suggest taking a gander at the infrared saunas offered by JNH Lifestyles. Our affordable, yet aesthetically appealing infrared saunas are one of the best-reviewed on the marketplace. Customers love how easy they are to assemble and the bang they get for their buck. Send us a message through our website or call us at (800) 528-3110; our experienced staff of infrared sauna technicians is more than happy to assist you.
A Comparative Study Of The Effects Of Infrared Radiation And Warm-Up Exercises In The Management Of DOMS, Journal of Clinical Sciences, 4 April 2016
Treating Sports-Related Injury And Pain With Light Therapy, Practicalpainmanagement.com, 25 June 2015.
Is An Infrared Sauna Better Than A Traditional Sauna?, Healthline.com, Red Ventures Company, 29 May 2018
The Six Reasons The Fitness Industry Is Booming, Forbes.com, Forbes Media, LLC., 26 September 2018
What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) And What Can You Do About It?, Healthline.com, Red Ventures Company, 25 June 2019
Moist Heat Or Dry Heat For Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 12 October 2013
Do I Need To Stretch Before Exercising?, Nhs.uk, Crown, 24 May 2018