Infrared Is The Newest Effective Recovery Tool – 7 Proven Things It Can Do For You
August 4th, 2021
(4 Minute Read)
Infrared Is The Newest,
Effective Recovery Tool – 7 Things It Can Do For You, Backed With Research
August 4th, 2021
(8 Minute Read)
Studies have shown that infrared sessions can have a direct, positive, impact on recovery from exercise and athletic performance1. It’s a new and exciting advancement in the athletic training world, and quickly making its mark from professional settings to local gyms.
Best part? It's a completely passive recovery protocol. You just sit, or even snooze if you want, while soaking in the rays. Sound too good? There's very little downside (we'll share them all later).
If you’ve been to the gym lately, you might have noticed a stand-alone cedar sauna room lingering in the corner. You might have even wondered in and found that it just wasn’t all that hot.
What if we told you that didn’t really matter? Exposure to Infrared does not require high temperatures to get all the benefits… And research is showing that the benefits are substantial.
Top Recovery Boosts From Infrared
1. Increase Testosterone to Cortisol Ratio – That’s right, boost testosterone and lower cortisol. If you don’t know, testosterone is something associated with many positive health benefits, including muscle growth and regeneration. Cortisol, the opposite. Inhibiting muscle growth, sometimes breaking it down and really creating a bunch of bad things in the body. Increasing testosterone while decreasing cortisol is pivotal to optimal recovery2. Infrared has been shown to do just that1.
2. Increase ATP Production – ATP is energy for your muscles at this smallest form (really it’s chemical bonds are potential energy easily converted). So naturally, more of it is ideal. Infrared at the proper wavelength is consumed by the cell, increases mitochondrial (cell power house) output, and creates more ATP for you to exercise and recover more efficiently4.
3. Increase Nitric Oxide Levels3– This is going to increase vasodilation. Why is this important? Because it allows for blood vessels to deliver more oxygen and more nutrients throughout the body. More oxygen and nutrients allows for muscles to work harder, longer and recovery faster.
4. Increase Lymphatic Flow – After exercising, your body is going to be going through many processes, and they create waste. The faster you can get rid of cellular waste, the quicker you reach full recovery. Increasing your Lymphatic Flow helps you get rid of cell waste faster. Research is showing Infrared Saunas are so effective at this, it's being used to treat hospitalized patients with lymphoedema5.
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5. Increase Blood Flow – This one works in tandem with Nitric Oxide Increases. Increased Nitric Oxide allows your blood to carry more building blocks, while increased blood flow gets it to the necessary locations at a higher rate. Increased blood flow accelerates recovery by delivering the necessary nutrients to muscles so they can grow and recover, while disposing of cellular waste at the same time. One Single Infrared Session can have a significant impact on blood velocity6.
6. Decrease Inflammation –Inflammation is natural, and necessary, for fitness progress. But too much inflammation is not a good thing. Infrared has been shown to significantly reduce swelling7, and helps to keep it at a level optimal for progress from your hard work.
7. Improve Circadian Cycle – Sleep is one of the oldest celebrated training pillars out there. Any improvement you can make to your sleep cycle is going to help with a multitude of things, including muscle recovery. Infrared has been shown to increase serotonin levels8, which makes you happier, but also has a large positive impact on your sleep quality9.
Downsides and Limitations?
Depending on the Sauna you are using, EMFs (Electric and Magnetic Fields) may be something to consider. There has been some research suggesting exposure to higher levels of EMF can lead to oxidative stress and other negative health impacts. So choosing the right sauna is a wise practice when dedicating to a infrared routine.
Ultimately, there are not many negatives to infrared therapy. It is important to make sure you are properly hydrated prior to starting an infrared sauna session. This ensures the maximum absorption on infrared energy into the body and helps to avoid any side effects of dehydration like headaches or lightheadedness.
1. Noponen PVA, Häkkinen K, Mero AA (2015) Effects of Far Infrared Heat on Recovery in Power Athletes. Journal of Athletic Enhancement 4:4. doi:10.4172/2324-9080.1000202
2. De luccia, TPB (2016) Use of the Testosterone/Coritsol Ratio Variable in Sports. The Open Sports Sciences Journal vol 9, pg 104. DOI: 10.2174/1875399X01609010104
3. Park JH, Lee S, Cho DH, Park YM, Kang DH, Jo I. Far-infrared radiation acutely increases nitric oxide production by increasing Ca(2+) mobilization and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II-mediated phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase at serine 1179. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Jul 12;436(4):601-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jun 10. PMID: 23756809.
4. Vatansever F, Hamblin MR. Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Photonics Lasers Med. 2012;4:255-266. doi:10.1515/plm-2012-0034
5. Li K, Zhang Z, Liu NF, Feng SQ, Tong Y, Zhang JF, Constantinides J, Lazzeri D, Grassetti L, Nicoli F, Zhang YX. Efficacy and safety of far infrared radiation in lymphedema treatment: clinical evaluation and laboratory analysis. Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Apr;32(3):485-494. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2135-0. Epub 2017 Jan 26. PMID: 28127644.
6. Hadimeri U, Wärme A, Stegmayr B. A single treatment, using Far Infrared light improves blood flow conditions in arteriovenous fistula. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2017;66(3):211-217. doi: 10.3233/CH-170254. PMID: 28527196.
7. Lin CC, Liu XM, Peyton K, Wang H, Yang WC, Lin SJ, Durante W. Far infrared therapy inhibits vascular endothelial inflammation via the induction of heme oxygenase-1. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Apr;28(4):739-45. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.107.160085. Epub 2008 Jan 17. PMID: 18202320; PMCID: PMC2748062.
8. Sharma N, Shin EJ, Kim NH, et al. Far-infrared Ray-mediated Antioxidant Potentials are Important for Attenuating Psychotoxic Disorders. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(10):990-1002. doi:10.2174/1570159X17666190228114318
9. Ursin R. Serotonin and sleep. Sleep Med Rev. 2002 Feb;6(1):55-69. doi: 10.1053/smrv.2001.0174. PMID: 12531142.