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For centuries saunas have been a popular method to relax, recover, and detoxify. While traditional saunas were the standard for years, infrared saunas have exploded in popularity in recent years, mainly due to the immense benefits they can have for health and overall wellbeing.

With so many fitness and wellness enthusiasts seeking answers to what type of sauna is best for them, we wanted to provide a comprehensive comparison that helps to provide more clarity and context. In this article, we will outline the main differences between infrared and regular saunas, so you can make an informed decision for your next trip to the spa.

How Traditional Saunas Work 

Traditional steam saunas (also known as regular or Finnish saunas) use a heating system to warm the air within an enclosed room. The heating system within the sauna works in tandem with a stack of stones to absorb heat and then radiate it throughout the room, creating a warm and relaxing atmosphere. The heat source can vary within the traditional steam sauna, ranging from wood-burning stoves, to electric heaters, or sometimes even gas-powered heaters.

Steam plays an essential role in the overall experience within a traditional sauna. You can control the level of humidity and moisture based on your heat tolerance, comfort level, and what type of experience you are hoping for. If you feel brave, you can pour more water on the heated stones to create a large cloud of steam and increase the overall humidity levels within the sauna. This combination of intense heat and humidity will induce relaxation and detoxification if you have accumulated a tolerance, and this is the sensation you are seeking.

How Infrared Saunas Work

While traditional saunas heat the air around you with hot stones and steam, infrared saunas use infrared light to generate heat. The infrared light penetrates your skin, deep into your muscles, cells, and tissue, raising your body temperature and promoting detoxification.

Infrared saunas often operate at lower temperatures than traditional saunas. The more manageable level of heat, combined with a lack of humidity, makes the infrared sauna experience more manageable and therapeutic for people. If you have ever used an infrared sauna, you know what we mean. The experience is relaxing, calm, and comfortable.

how does an infrared sauna work

Comparing the Health Benefits of Infrared Vs Traditional Sauna

Infrared Light Vs Steam and Humidity

Both traditional and infrared saunas provide many health benefits, and when used appropriately, either method can leave you feeling like a new person. The major difference between the two is the use of deep and penetrating light in infrared saunas rather than stones, steam, and humidity in a Finnish Sauna.

Despite the benefits of a regular sauna, studies show that infrared saunas provide several additional benefits and is a superior system to improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Additional Benefits of an Infrared Sauna

1. Blood Circulation and Detoxification 

The deep, penetrating heat from an infrared radiation is like nothing else. The infrared light penetrates deep into your skin, muscles, joints, and tissue. This penetration helps to increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure, improve oxygenation, and therefore remove impurities and toxins within your cells. The sweat you produce during your session also helps dissolve harmful substances such as cholesterol or heavy metals that have accumulated in your body.

While a traditional sauna also helps to dissolve toxins in your body through sweat production, the additional penetration that comes with infrared saunas accelerate this process and creates much greater levels of detoxification.

2. Relaxation and Stress Relief

Within the first few minutes of an infrared heat session, you will feel any anxiety you are experiencing leave your system, and it will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Due to the reduced humidity, less intense heat, and gentle warmth you feel during an infrared sauna session, it is a more relaxing and stress-relieving experience than a traditional sauna. On the other hand, many people struggle to relax in a regular sauna. This is also common in another form of heat therapy: steam rooms. While some people love the sensation of intense humidity and steam, it can be overwhelming and smothering for others. 

Moreover, the infrared light, combined with the heat, releases serotonin and increases your brain’s dopamine levels, providing a similar endorphin rush you feel from exercise and an overall sense of joy and happiness.

3. Recovery and Pain Relief

If you are struggling with pain, both infrared saunas and traditional saunas can be helpful in the recovery process. However, infrared saunas provide more significant relief and are more effective at improving recovery after exercise, relieving pain, and reducing overall muscle soreness.

The deep penetrating infrared light helps your blood vessels to dilate, improves blood circulation, and brings more targeted relief to the affected muscle, joint, ligament, or tendon. While offering some relaxation and relief, the traditional sauna does not provide the same focused health benefits and is not as helpful at targeting localised pain within your body.

Another incredible benefit of infrared technology is the capacity to help those suffering from chronic injury or pain. Chronic pain can be disheartening and debilitating, so infrared saunas are a great way to relieve the severity of this pain and help with your physical and mental struggles.

4. Improved Skin

Both infrared and traditional saunas are excellent for your skin, mainly due to the extreme levels of sweat you achieve. The resulting sweathelps to cleanse your pores of toxins and expel dead skin cells.

Additionally, the increased blood circulation that you experience during an infrared sauna bath draws natural nutrients to the surface of your skin to minimise the discomfort of conditions such as acne or eczema.

benefits of infrared sauna

Making the Right Choice for You

Ultimately, choosing between an infrared sauna or a traditional sauna will come down to your personal preferences, heat tolerance, and what you hope to achieve from your experience. Some people enjoy the sensation of steam, humidity, and intense heat and thoroughly enjoy a traditional sauna.

However, infrared saunas provides a much more therapeutic, comfortable, and relaxing experience for most people. The sense of joy and calm you can achieve through an infrared sauna session is unparalleled. Even more so, if you are dealing with muscle soreness, fatigue, or injury, a modern infrared sauna will be much more effective for your recovery. To book your first session with Rimba Sweat’s infrared sauna, you can make a booking online or call our studios directly.