New forms of therapy are emerging and among some of the biggest contenders for this new market of physical rehabilitation and care are red light therapy and infrared light saunas.

They both work with a low-level laser or light therapy and they’ve both been through extensive testing. These new technologies are up and coming for the fast-paced world of athletic rehab, so understanding how they work and what benefits each of them offer will get you back to the grind, fast. 

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy or RLT has broad therapeutic benefits. Are you looking for how to integrate more regenerative therapies and practices into your routine?

 It can be overwhelming to sift through a huge market of products and their claims to find something that really works for you. 

So, getting some information about how these services work is a great place to start. For those keeping their bodies operating at peak performance, the best red light therapy devices are likely bringing what you want to the table. Here’s how:

The Science

How does red light therapy work? It projects visible red light and near-infrared light. 

We all learned ROYGBIV in school to learn the colours in the visible spectrum of light, a.k.a. the rainbow. This therapy uses the red part of that visible spectrum of light and pushes it out into the near-infrared light as well.

 This light is invisible to the human eye because its wavelengths are longer than what our eyes are built to see. The best red light therapy device will emit both red and near-infrared. 

How it Interacts with The Body

What does red light therapy do? During therapy, you’ll experience red light’s warmth on your skin in different ways depending on your red light therapy device. And although there’s still a degree of mystery for scientists studying red light therapy, one thing is very clear. Red light therapy helps your cells make more energy. 

In our cells, we have smaller organelles called mitochondria that generate energy for our cells. 

The organelle this therapy works with most is the one that produces the chemical form of energy needed to take care of business in our cells. 

It works with the mitochondria and boosts their ability to convert more energy. When these organelles are creating more energy, they’re more efficient in healing and regenerating tissue. 

Benefits Of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy benefits several categories of physical wellness making it a great companion for your fitness journey. 

All of those benefits come along without any of the physical discomforts you’ll see with infrared saunas, as red light therapy doesn’t use heat. 

Red light therapy devices improve collagen density in the skin, so users often report an improvement in their complexion as a result. Red light therapy benefits the healing and regeneration of tissue, including skin and muscle tissue. This can be great after a long day in the gym or at work as muscle tissues break apart when we’re working hard. It also has applications for TMJ, hair loss, osteoarthritis and even tendonitis. 

Downsides

Unfortunately, even the best red light therapy isn’t FDA approved. Although there is substantial research that’s been done across several different potential benefits, what it lacks is broad FDA approval. That being said, not everything that brings health benefits always has FDA approval when it’s first coming to market. 

Another unfortunate downside to red light therapy devices and treatments is that they are not going to be covered by your insurance. So, although they have some clear benefits, they will require you to invest in yourself without the support of your health insurance provider, if you have one. More insurances are however trying to cover alternative therapies, so keep checking to see if your provider is one of them. 

There are some small potential dangers in using in-home, DIY red light therapy devices. There have been a few cases of folks using this kind of red light therapy device and either falling asleep or forgetting that they were wearing the device and that negligence can hurt.

So, although the near-infrared light doesn’t produce much heat, using this therapy for too long can leave the skin burned. This is simple to avoid as long as you stay present in your therapy session and avoid dozing off. 

Infrared Light Sauna

Infrared light therapies offer an exciting new modality for non-invasive therapy and a feel-good wellness regimen. There are lots of different kinds of products in the market that use light therapy and this one is truly unique. This product offers more of a sauna experience.

Unlike red light therapy, infrared saunas are a space, like a traditional sauna, that simply uses light to produce that dry-heat sauna effect. 

The Science

If you’ve tried searching ‘how does red light therapy work’ or ‘how does infrared light work’, it comes down to some really simple science. 

Both visible light and infrared light are in the section of the spectrum of light that creates heat. It’s called thermal radiation and it means that heat is being sent out from a source. Infrared light saunas use this effect from the invisible infrared light and use it to generate heat. This is a little different from the heat from a traditional sauna because instead of heating the air, the infrared light acts on your body to heat it directly. 

Think of how your skin feels hot after spending time in the sunlight. Infrared light works just like that, without the danger of the sun’s UV light. 

How it Interacts with Bodies

When we asked the question ‘what does red light therapy do,’ we looked at how cells interacted with the light. Here, with infrared light therapy, we’re looking at how our body responds to heat. When we’re exposed to heat, our nervous system (the one that notices what we feel) sends word to the exocrine system (responsible for sweat, saliva and milk). 

The signal says we’re hot and it’s time to sweat. That sweat works to keep us cool. Think of how much colder it feels to be wet outside than dry. 

How does red light therapy work? Completely different from how infrared saunas work. It’s even different from how traditional saunas work. When we sweat in an infrared sauna, the sweat tends to include more cholesterol, toxins and toxic heavy metals than sweat from traditional saunas. This unique trait is what makes infrared saunas a detoxifying experience responsible for its many benefits. 

Benefits Of Infrared Light Saunas

The detoxifying effect makes infrared therapies so different from red light therapy. Whereas the red light therapy benefits revolve around regeneration, infrared light saunas seem to mimic the benefits of self-care.

 Users notice relaxing effects, an improvement in sleep and an overall reduction in pain. Releasing toxins from our bodies can relieve muscle soreness and improve weight-loss ability. The effect of intense sweating as a form of care sends messages to our nervous system that we are safe, which allows us to relax. So users also report a reduction in stress overall. 

Downsides

Any time we’re exciting our nervous system, we’re taking a risk. The risk here relates to getting overheated. So dehydration is possible as well as conditions like heat stroke. 

Some users report feeling lightheaded or experiencing a dip in blood pressure. These are pretty typical symptoms to encounter anytime you’re interacting with heat and it’s completely normal. So ensure that you take care of yourself and listen to your body when using infrared light saunas. 

Unlike red light therapy, there is one infrared service that is FDA approved. However, the FDA has also recalled some of the previously approved devices. With any new technology, the newer devices are safer for this oversight. Similar to red light therapy, without the FDA backing, you’re likely to face challenges when it comes to getting insurance coverage. Don’t get discouraged, there are some insurance companies that will offer coverage for some infrared light therapies.  

So, before you invest, if you have insurance, be sure to research and you may be spared some of the cost. 

Why not integrate both? 

Therapies that integrate red light therapy benefits with those of infrared saunas offer the best possible outcomes for wellness-minded folks.

 When we combine the regenerative effects of red light therapy with the restorative impact of infrared saunas, you really are getting the best of both worlds. 

Solutions:

Start by looking for products that integrate both red light therapy and infrared light. You’ll be able to find them by looking for keywords like red light therapy and infrared light therapy.

 Sometimes, you’ll see terms like near-infrared or far-infrared to describe the part of the infrared spectrum the product uses. They are out there on the market and when these worlds combine, it’s enough to give you a competitive edge.

Find a product that fits the scale you’re looking for. Before buying a red light or an infrared light product you must look at the reviews.

There are red light therapy devices that range from full-length mirror size down to shoulder wrap. 

Infrared products can range from the size of a room to the size of a flashlight.

 Even the best red light therapy device out there might be too large or clunky for your workout corner. So working to identify what you want from this kind of therapy will allow you to choose the size that works best for you in your life. 

Don’t be afraid to invest. You’ll know your needs best! 

Turning towards the things that you need will drive your wellness routine to success every time. So when you notice that you’re not recovering in time for your next leg day, do something about it. Caring for your needs will always move you forward, and that always comes along with a cost.

 Your wellness grows when you put time, energy, and money into it. And the combination of red light therapy and infrared light saunas will propel your fitness game to the next level. 

FAQ

Q: How do infrared saunas work?

Ans: Unlike normal saunas, they do not heat up the air but heat up the objects in the sauna.

Q: Infrared sauna and Red light therapy the same thing?

Ans: No it is not, the same.

Q: Can you wear clothes while doing red light therapy

Ans: Yes, however the area that you are treating needs to be exposed.

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