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Turn to the light: Infrared sauna has recovery, health benefits

You get sweaty enough working out, so why would you want to close yourself up in a little room and turn up the heat to sweat some more? The answer? To feel better and get stronger.

The benefits of saunas have been known for centuries. In some countries, like Finland and Japan, there’s a whole culture built around them and every member of the family takes part. Saunas can help you relax, relieve stress, and, be healthier – no matter your fitness level.

There are two types of saunas – traditional and infrared. And, while the traditional sauna is beneficial, the infrared sauna is what’s now being recommended by physical therapists as treatment for muscle aches and pains and to aid in recovery. Some doctors and researchers also believe infrared therapy can help you overcome a wide variety of illnesses.

Here’s why: the heat from a traditional sauna will only penetrate your skin by a few millimeters. Infrared heat penetrates by 1½ inches or more. That more efficiently targets what ails you. By heating up your body, there’s increased blood flow, which is great in reducing muscle spasms and joint stiffness. There’s also evidence that when used 24 to 48 hours post injury, infrared energy can reduce the time it takes for your body to heal sprains and strains.

 

Infrared saunas have many other health benefits, including detoxing heavy metals and chemicals. When you sweat, you excrete toxins through your pores. And doctors with NASA and the Medical College of Wisconsin found that infrared light significantly promotes faster cell regeneration, wound healing and human tissue growth.

 

Infrared saunas work by producing light rays that mimic those of the sun, but there’s no chance of burning. The light rays heat up your body, producing an elevated heart rate and of course, sweat. Basically, being in a sauna is like having a low-grade fever. And when you get warm, your body can kill off bacteria, fungi, yeast infection, parasites, viruses and other chronic infections.

 

There have been hundreds of clinical trials with infrared saunas, many reporting that the therapy is successful in treating a wide variety of conditions. Some patients experienced a great deal of relief with these and other problems:

  • Asthma, Bronchitis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Circulation problems like cold hands and feet
  • High Blood pressure
  • Leg ulcers
  • Acne and other skins problems
  • Pain Relief
Inferred Sauna

                    Infrared Sauna

How to get started? Well, even though you aren’t actually working out, a sauna is like exercise in that, your body heats up and your heart rate elevates. So, consider infrared sauna use to be like a form of exercise.

 

Start slow, with sessions that last 10-15 minutes, then build up to 30-40 minutes over one to two months. It all depends on what kind of condition you’re in when you start.

 

Infrared saunas are now a matter of course, built into the conditioning plan for many NFL players and other professional athletes. What’s good for them can be very good for you.

 

 

Magnesium, the supplement you probably are not taking

 

There are hundreds of supplements out there and you can go crazy trying to figure out the benefits and drawbacks to each one. Doctors sometimes tell their patients about the benefits of different supplements; for example, COQ10 is a great supplement to help you keep muscle mass if you’re taking statins for cholesterol. Statins will rob your body of the COQ10 you naturally create, so replacing it is a good idea.

 

Magnesium is another supplement- a mineral- that is crucial to keeping your body functioning well. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.

 

Most people should take a magnesium supplement because as a whole, Americans don’t eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Adults who take in less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. Inflammation has been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and an elevated risk of osteoporosis.

 

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys, uses magnesium. In fact, if you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

 

Magnesium is also an antidote to stress; it’s the most powerful relaxation mineral available and can help improve your sleep. You can think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff  – whether it’s a body part or even your mood- is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

 

So what do you do? Whenever possible, you should try to get your magnesium and other nutrients the natural way- including foods that are good for you in your diet. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic all have higher magnesium content. And, of course, eating whole foods is best. Refined and processed foods often lose vital vitamins and minerals.

  • What to avoid: drinking excessive amounts of soda or caffeine. Also know that certain medications and certain antibiotics can rob your body of magnesium.

 

But, like we said, most Americans can’t get enough magnesium through diet alone. So, talk to your doctor about magnesium supplements. The RDA (the minimum amount needed for adults) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

 

 

Also- be sure to check the label on your multi-vitamin before buying a separate magnesium supplement. Your multi-vitamin may contain what you need.

 

  • And, last, but not least, another enjoyable way to get magnesium- a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Your body actually absorbs the mineral while you soak. You can unwind and relax while doing something good for you.