Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
For a long time I have looked for a modality to treat chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid disease, and osteoarthritis. Last week we installed a far-infrared sauna in the clinic for this purpose.
Most of the time when you think of a sauna, you're thinking about steam. Steam is water at 212°. That's pretty hot. It may be too much heat for some people in chronic pain or with cardiac conditions. We can produce a sauna effect with much less heat and more comfort by using infrared light.
"Far-infrared" refers to a wavelength of light. Four infrared heaters do the work while you sit in what looks like a phone booth made of Western Canadian cedar. The infrared light penetrates deeply through skin, muscle, ligaments and tendons. The effect is comfort and relief without the extreme heat of a steam sauna. Besides comfort, there are other benefits:
Excretion of toxins and mineral waste: heat from the sauna stimulates sweat glands, releasing built-up toxins and wastes.
Increasing your metabolism: According to the Journal of the American Medical
Association report, in a single sauna session you may burn as many calories as you would rowing or jogging for 30 minutes. So you lose weight - not just water.
Of course, our wellness program will help you immensely with weight control.
Clears Cellulite: Cellulite is the term for the gel-like lumps of fat, water and debris trapped in pockets beneath the skin. European beauty specialists routinely incorporate daily saunas in programs to reduce cellulite. Because a far-infrared sauna warms three times as deeply as conventional saunas, it is significantly more effective at reducing cellulite.
Relieves Pain: The deep heat of a far-infrared sauna helps peripheral blood vessels dilate, bringing relief and healing to muscle and soft tissue injuries. Increased blood circulation carries off metabolic waste products and delivers oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-depleted muscles, so they recover faster. Muscles relax most readily when tissues are warm, for greater flexibility and range of motion.
In Europe, radiant heat therapy is widely used to treat patients suffering from many forms of arthritis. In addition, it has been proven effective in the treatment of sprains, neuralgia, bursitis, muscle spasms, joint stiffness and many other muscular-skeletal ailments. Much of the stiffness, aches and soreness that comes with aging is reduced or eliminated.
Improves the Immune System: A sauna's deep heat raises your body temperature, inducing an artificial fever. Raising your core temperature above that tolerated by the viruses and bacteria that might make you sick may kill them off without drugs. Combined with the elimination of toxins and wastes produced by the intense sweating, your overall health and resistance to disease is increased.
Increases Circulation: As your body increases sweat production to cool itself, your heart works harder pumping blood at a greater rate to boost circulation, supplying the conditioning benefits of continuous exercise. Heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate increase, while diastolic blood pressure drops, for improved overall cardiovascular fitness.
Many of us who run do so to place a demand on our cardiovascular systems, not to build big leg muscles. Regular use of a sauna may impart similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories as regular exercise. A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 gms. in a sauna, consuming nearly 300 calories.
Relaxation (Reduces Stress and Fatigue): Perhaps the most immediate relief the sauna offers is simple relaxation, as it melts away the stresses and tensions of urban life. Just a few minutes in the gentle warmth of the sauna gives you an overall massaging effect, soothing jangled nerves and knotted muscles. You'll feel rejuvenated and renewed, restored in both body and mind.
Improves Skin: The profuse sweating achieved after just a few minutes in the sauna carries off deeply imbedded impurities and dead skin cells, leaving the skin glowing and immaculately clean. Increased circulation draws your skin's own natural nutrients to the surface. You'll see improved tone, elasticity, texture and fresh color.
We are excited about this new service. It is an opportunity to pamper our patients, and that's why we're here.