Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their performance. After all, getting better results and progress can be really stimulating and is what keeps them focused. However, sometimes they can reach a plateau and not see changes for some time. This can be frustrating, especially when they're doing everything in their power to succeed. The answer to this problem may be the latest trend in wellness: infrared saunas. These have been used by celebrities and people all around the world, who have reported many great benefits about them. This therapy might just be that extra push that athletes need to reach their goals.
How Do Full Spectrum Infrared Saunas Work?
Infrared saunas use a specific type of wavelength from the electromagnetic spectrum to heat your body. Infrared waves are invisible to the human eye and sits just beyond visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum. Its wavelength allows it to penetrate tissues and transfer heat. There are 3 different types of infrared waves: near infrared, mid infrared and far infrared. Near infrared is the one with the least amount of penetration, reaching only the top layers of the skin. Mid infrared can penetrate a little deeper and is known for the positive effect it has on circulation. On the other hand, far infrared penetrates deeper into your tissues and has many medicinal benefits. Each type of infrared wave has different applications and health benefits, and thankfully there are infrared saunas that use all 3 [1,2].
Infrared Saunas Help You Recover
Something that can boost an athlete's performance is an effective recovery, and infrared saunas can help you achieve it. Studies have shown that they are favorable for your muscles and nerves, and they assist in lowering your cortisol levels. This is the body's stress hormone and it has many effects that can jeopardize your progress and endurance .
Full-spectrum infrared sauna sessions--before strength training--have been linked with lower levels of lactate and C-reactive protein. These are chemicals your body releases due to inflammation, and reducing their levels has a direct effect on muscle soreness and recovery. Infrared radiation also prevents your muscles from getting too damaged during training, and considerably reduce muscle fatigue .
You Will Have More Energy
Infrared radiation can penetrate deep into your skin and tissues and it has specific effects on the cellular level. It stimulates the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. It's basically where all the energy that is used by our cells is produced. Think of it as the motor that keeps our cells running. By stimulating them, more energy will be produced and ready to be used. As a result of this molecular process, you will have more energy for your workout sessions, and this will result in improved performance and better results .
Get The Gains You Have Been Wanting
Building muscle mass can be a real challenge. At first, when your body isn't used to strength training it can be fairly easy to gain some mass. However, as time goes by and you become a more seasoned athlete, more effort is needed to get gains. Infrared saunas can give you a little push in this direction. As you probably know, one of the things that promote muscle building is the growth hormone (GH). This hormone is released mainly during your sleep, so getting enough hours of quality sleep in your day is key in this regard. Infrared saunas help you reset your sleep cycle and sleep better. It has also been proven that this type of radiation directly increases the levels of growth hormone in your blood, making you bigger and stronger [5,6]
Detox Your Body
Since athletes spend a lot of energy, there can be a high level of metabolic waste in their system. Infrared radiation can help you get rid of this waste and toxins you have absorbed from the environment and that are building up in your body. These can make you feel fatigued and sluggish [7,8]
As you can see, infrared saunas have many benefits for athletes. However, this is not an excuse to abuse this treatment. Be responsible, keep your sessions short, and hydrate before, during and after your sessions.
There is no reason to not enjoy all the benefits infrared saunas have to offer. It is a harmless procedure, with no pain, that actually relaxes you while doing wonders on your body. What are you waiting to give it a try?
 Dold Brian. (2016). "Infrared Radiation in Modern Technology." Researchgate.net, Research Gate, April 2016, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301553918_Infrared_Radiation_in_Modern_Technology
 Vatansever Fatma, Hamblin Michael. (2012). "Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, 16 October 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/.
 Mero Antti, Tornberg Jaakko, Mantykoski Mari, Puurtinen Risto. (2015). "Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, 7 July 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4493260/.
 Ferraresi Cleber, Huang Ying-Ying, Hamblin Michael. (2016). "Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance?" Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, 22 November 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5167494/.
 Lu Man, Flanagan Jack, Langley Ries, Hay Michael, Perry Jo. (2019). "Targeting growth hormone function: strategies and therapeutic applications." Nature.com, Nature, 8 February 2019, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-019-0036-y.
 Hussain Joy, Cohen Marc. (2018). "Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, 24 April 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/.
 "Sauna-Induced Sweating Offers Many Health Benefits" Uwheealth.org, UW Health, 16 October 2017, https://www.uwhealth.org/health-wellness/sauna-induced-sweating-offers-many-health-benefits/51516.
 Ramos CA, Wolterbeek HT, Almeida SM. (2014). "Exposure to indoor air pollutants during physical activity in fitness centers." Sciencedirect.com, Science Direct, December, 2014, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360132314002856.