Traditional vs infrared. What’s the difference?
Traditional (Finnish) saunas — the type you’ve likely experienced if you’ve sat in a sauna — typically heat rocks to a very high temperature using some sort of stove. The rocks then heat the air, usually to around 180 degrees Fahrenheit (or more), and the elevated air temperature causes you to sweat. Simple & effective. The downside is that many people have some difficulty breathing due to the relatively extreme temperature.
In contrast, our saunas are heated using carbon fiber panels which produce infrared heat. This type of energy directly heats objects (like our bodies) more than it heats the air. So while you’ll sweat just as much as you would in a traditional sauna, you’ll have a much easier time breathing when you relax in our saunas because of the lower ambient air temperature, which can be set between 104 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wait… infrared. Is that safe?
Simply, yes. But if you’re interested in the slightly more complicated answer…
Infrared energy is actually a form of light with a wavelength outside our visual range, like ultraviolet or X-rays. However, unlike the latter two, regular exposure to infrared wavelengths is perfectly safe. Near infrared wavelengths (those closer to the visible spectrum) are used in everyday items like your TV remote. Far infrared wavelengths (those farther from the visible spectrum) produce the heat that we feel from sunlight, a fire, or a warm sidewalk. Those wavelengths won’t cause burns simply from exposure like ultraviolet (i.e. sunburn), but they can cause burns due to prolonged physical contact just like touching any other heat source. In other words, you can touch the heaters in our saunas when they’re on… but we wouldn’t recommend leaning against them for any extended period of time.
What benefits can I expect?
Sweating is the obvious effect, but the actual benefits are internal. Spend any time doing your own research, and you’ll find numerous purported benefits such as reducing blood pressure, eliminating toxins, etc… but it appears the jury is still out based on the actual science that we’ve seen.
What we do know is that sauna sessions are quite relaxing and have some stress-reducing effects even though you’re likely to experience a slightly elevated heart rate during them. You can also expect some soothing of muscle- and joint-aches and pains and reduced water retention (if that’s an issue for you). So while sitting in the sauna won’t replace your cardiovascular training or massages, it’s still a great way to gently improve your health and post-training recovery process!