Recovery is a huge trend this year, and for good reason! With the boom of the fitness injury, more and more people are finding it’s just as – if not more! – important to emphasize recovery as it is to focus on those healthy gains. And stars and fitness junkies alike have been raving about wild wellness treatments for recovery – anything from freezing muscles with cryotherapy to heating things up in an infrared sauna.
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Celebrity trainer (and Shakira’s personal trainer!) Anna Kaiser told us the infrared sauna is her number one self-care treatment for active women. “It decreases inflammation, increases muscular recovery, decreases recovery time, and is a really nice way to decompress without dehyrdating yourself," she told POPSUGAR. "It’s heating from the inside out – you give your bones and joints and tissue a release."
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In fact, Kaiser loves the infrared saunas so much, she’s put them into her fitness studios in New York. Sounds like the perfect post-workout cooldown . . . in a not-so-cool way!
I tried the infrared sauna myself to see if it was worth the hype, and indeed I felt relaxed, calm, and less sore. But instead of relying on anecdotal experience and my subjective trial, I wanted to see if I could back up the claims with some science. And as it turns out, there’s a good chunk of info out there! While some claims aren’t yet backed up with medical studies, there are a solid handful that have been bolstered and validated by the scientific community. Check it:
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Alleviates Pain. This is the most solid of all the claims! Multiple studies have shown that a session in the FIR (far infrared) sauna relieves chronic pain, including with rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Could Boost Energy. In one of the studies supporting that infrared saunas can relieve pain, there was a small amount of evidence around helping with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Can Treat Aspects of Depression. A 2005 study examined 28 patients with depression and noticed that symptoms were alleviated through the use of the infrared sauna.
May Improve Heart Health. There have been some studies done on the circulatory system and heartbeat regularity showing positive results.
Can Help Relieve Diabetes Symptoms. One study showed the sauna may be "associated with improved quality of life in people with type II diabetes mellitus."
Could Potentially Help With Weight Loss. There haven’t been conclusive studies backing this as far as we’ve seen, but some subjects of infrared sauna studies have lost weight during the trials.
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Science aside, a session in one of these hot boxes just feels good and makes an awesome form of self-care to unwind, unplug, disconnect from the world, and treat your body right. And who knows what studies will come up in the next year or so with the increased popularity and consumer demand? As far as we’ve read in all the studies, there are no adverse side effects, making this A-OK to check out and indulge in when the mood strikes . . . or when you’re muscles are begging for a recovery sesh!