So, tomorrow, as well as a flotation session, I’ll be exploring the growing body of evidence confirming the amazing benefits of infrared sauna therapy (and not just Lady Gaga’s recent testimonial). The heat from infrared saunas is powerful and deep, yet surprisingly gentle and easy to tolerate at the same time. Studies show that, in addition to deeply heating your tissues and inducing an intense sweat to help detoxify, infrared sauna therapy causes other health-promoting changes in the body that have lead to a significant decrease in pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Japanese researchers studied the effects of infrared sauna sessions in 13 female fibromyalgia patients. Patients received infrared sauna therapy in cabins heated to 60°c (140°F) once per day for 15 minutes, two or five days a week. After the sauna sessions, the patients went into a warm room and were covered with a blanket from the neck down to keep them warm for 30 minutes.
All patients’ pain was significantly reduced by about half after the first session and the effect became lasting after about ten treatments. At that time, pain was decreased by 20% to 78%!
In another study in 44 female fibromyalgia patients, three months of sauna therapy three times a week, along with underwater exercise twice a week, decreased pain and other symptoms by 33% to 77%. And the improvements lasted: pain was still 28% to 68% improved six months after the end of the study.
Exercise performance also significantly improved for those in the sauna group. In a six-minute walking test, they were able to walk almost twice as far without pain after the six weeks of infrared sauna use, while those in the control group experienced no change in walking distance.
With all this research suggesting significant pain reduction, it is no wonder infrared saunas are being installed in doctor’s offices, spas, wellness centres, and private homes around the world at an increasing rate. If you’re interested in all-natural, non-drug pain treatment, it may well be worth checking on the availability of an infrared sauna near you (a Google search would do it).
At this point, it’s not clear what the optimal infrared sauna temperature, duration, and frequency is to lessen pain. The Japanese recommend shorter, more frequent sauna sessions. Daily or almost-daily 15-minutes sessions are always followed by a 30-minute warming period during which time you lie wrapped in a blanket.