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Article: Infrared Sauna Therapy for Low Back Pain

Infrared Sauna Therapy for Low Back Pain

Infrared Sauna Therapy for Low Back Pain

Written by Chris Lang

Back pain is a very frustrating and uncomfortable issue to have to live with. And, for chronic sufferers, it can sometimes feel like there’s simply no way to get any kind of relief. If you’ve been searching high and low for anything to ease your aches, an infrared sauna for back pain could be the solution.

Plenty of people are taking an active interest in infrared saunas for their vast range of potential health benefits. But can they truly provide relief for those with back pain? That’s what this guide aims to find out. This article will look at how infrared sauna therapy could provide relief, examining some key scientific studies on the subject.

Understanding Back Pain

Back pain is a widespread health issue, affecting tens of millions of Americans – and it’s not just limited to those of a certain age. This condition affects a huge number of young people, even those who are barely out of their teens. In other words, anyone can fall victim to this issue, and it can strike at any stage of life.

Even mild back pain can be frustrating, and it’s actually one of the most common reasons why people have to take time off work. Many people have to deal with moderate or even chronic back pain that simply won’t go away.

This can have a range of cascading effects, such as making it difficult to sleep, causing depression, and preventing people from living happy, healthy, active lives. Indeed, for someone with back pain, even the simplest of movements and actions – like lying down, going for a walk, or doing most kinds of exercise – can become so much more difficult.

In terms of the causes of back pain, several potential factors can play a part in the development of this issue. Lifting heavy objects, lack of exercise, poor posture, being overweight, and various diseases can all increase a person’s chances of suffering from this problem.

Typically, treatment will involve the use of pain medication and heat to ease the pain. Physical therapy may also be recommended, and surgery could be required in the most serious cases. Results vary – some people experience relief from their pain quite quickly, and others have to deal with it for life.

The Role of Sauna Therapy

Sauna therapy has become an increasingly popular alternative health and wellness solution sought by people with various health conditions. Scientists, too, are digging into the links between sauna and diabetes and examining how a steam sauna for cold and flu might be used to alleviate symptoms of common viruses.

So far, studies into sauna therapy have proven promising. Research has shown that regular sauna use can help promote better circulation by dilating the blood vessels, improve mood and mental health through relaxation, and even reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. In short, spending just a little time in these warm, soothing rooms seems to offer a whole spectrum of benefits to improve quality of life.

For patients with low back pain, too, the evidence gathered so far provides plenty of cause for optimism. “Pain relief” was cited as one of the main reasons why people use saunas in a global survey from 2016-17. And, if so many people experience relief from spending time in a sauna, it stands to reason that those suffering from back pain should also be able to enjoy the benefit.

Science Behind Sauna Therapy

So, what exactly is it about sauna therapy, particularly infrared sauna therapy, that could be so beneficial for patients with back pain? The main way saunas are believed to provide health and wellness benefits is via heat. And heat therapy is something that has been used throughout history, for thousands of years, to provide relief and comfort for generations.

From mud baths and steam rooms to simple soaks in the bath or warm, wet cloths placed on the forehead to ease a headache, heat has long been a natural alternative to pain medicine. And there’s lots of evidence to show that it has positive effects. Saunas elevates that concept, creating enclosed, high-temperature spaces to warm and soothe the whole body.

The way heat works is actually quite simple: as the body warms up, blood vessels respond by getting wider. This allows more blood to flow at a faster rate through your system, helping to relax tired or aching muscles by taking lactic acid away and delivering oxygen. Studies also show that heat therapy can trigger the release of endorphins, helping people feel happier and more relaxed.

Types of Saunas and Their Benefits

There are two main types of saunas that could be used to ease back pain: traditional and infrared. Traditional, or Finnish saunas, are by far the oldest, having been used throughout history. They consist of an enclosed room with a container of hot rocks, a water cask, and some way to pour the water onto the rocks. This heats the room to a very high temperature, warming anyone within.

Then, there are infrared saunas, which are much more modern. Infrared sauna therapy works with the use of infrared (IR) heaters, emitting IR light. The IR light can penetrate the skin and effectively warm the body from within. So, while a traditional sauna heats the room first, then the user, an infrared sauna directly heats the people within it.

Both of these saunas produce similar results and benefits but offer different user experiences. Traditional saunas get much hotter. Since heat is a key component in soothing muscles and ligaments, it could help to ease lower back pain through the heating mechanisms explained above. At the same time, the high, dry heat of a classic sauna may be too much for some users.

Infrared saunas have the unique benefit of operating at lower temperatures while still providing healing benefits. This may make them a little more comfortable to spend time in, particularly for those who don’t tend to respond too well to the more extreme heat of a Finnish sauna – Finnish saunas typically heat up to between 150 degrees and 195 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, IR saunas heat between 120 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Infrared Saunas and Back Pain Relief

Infrared sauna therapy involves the use of IR heaters, emitting waves of IR light that can pass through the skin and warm the muscles and deep body tissue from within. As explained earlier, by warming the muscles, IR saunas may be able to ease aches and pains, removing lactic acid from the lower back and boosting the production of endorphins.

And there is scientific evidence to back this idea up. A relatively old was conducted by the Rothbart Pain Management Clinic of Ontario. It involved two groups, one given IR therapy and one given placebo treatment, all suffering from chronic low back pain. The study found that infrared sauna therapy was effective at easing chronic back pain without any adverse effects. More recent study is needed on the topic, but these initial findings are promising.

Sauna Therapy for Back Pain Management

The studies cited throughout this guide show that dry sauna therapy may both improve quality of life and reduce pain in patients with chronic back aches. So, how can you make it a part of your routine? It’s important not to rush right in when it comes to sauna therapy, particularly if you haven’t got much or any experience of using a sauna before.

Instead, it’s best to start slow and gradual. Begin with just one or two short five to 10-minute sessions per week, and give your body time to adjust. You can then gradually work your way up to longer sessions, though you never need to go too far – experts recommend no longer than 15 minutes per session and two to five sessions a week to help with soreness.

Precautions and Safety Measures

Saunas could be an interesting and effective source of back pain treatment if other methods haven’t quite worked for you. However, it’s important to use saunas responsibly and with care. Before beginning any new sauna regimen, it’s strongly recommended to consult with your healthcare provider – they’ll be able to offer assistance and advice on whether or not a sauna is appropriate for you.

Those with existing and underlying health conditions, especially low blood pressure or heart problems, are particularly encouraged to seek a doctor’s approval before stepping into a sauna. Regardless of your health or fitness levels, you should always ensure you’re properly hydrated both before and after each sauna session.

Personal Testimonials and Case Studies

As studies into sauna benefits continue to show promising results, it seems that more and more people worldwide are trying saunas. And many of them have experienced positive results. Writing for Yoga Journal, Jennifer Davis-Flynn tried a sauna for 30 days and experienced notable chronic pain relief. Alyssa Hui in Very Well Health shared similar positive results, with less muscle soreness and a calmer mentality.

Of course, it’s important to note that everyone is different, and individual impressions may vary. You might not necessarily experience the same effects as other users. But if you’re looking for a way to soothe back pain, spending time in a sauna is certainly an option to consider.

Complementary Approaches to Back Pain Management

While sauna therapy may help to ease lower back pain, it shouldn’t be regarded as a cure. Nor should it be treated as the only way to deal with back aches and soreness. Instead, it’s best to see sauna therapy as a complementary treatment used in conjunction with other methods, like pain relievers, muscle relaxants, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Only with a holistic approach can patients expect to see the most profound and comprehensive improvements in their condition.

The Future of Sauna Therapy

While several studies have already dug into the concept of sauna use for back pain, more research is needed to see how effective it can truly be and the best ways to use it. In the years ahead, you can expect to see scientists asking more questions about sauna therapy, like “Does sauna help arthritis pain?” as well as exploring the most efficient methods for patients to get relief via saunas.

If more promising studies are conducted, you could expect to see saunas more widely used to treat back pain. Not only that, but they could be used to treat or ease a much broader range of ailments, aches, and inflammations.

Consider Infrared Sauna Therapy to Ease Recurring Back Pain

Overall, the science behind saunas for back pain is clearly quite promising. Studies suggest that regular use could be effective in soothing tired muscles and easing chronic soreness. So, if you’ve been dealing with recurring or chronic back pain, it might be time to consider sauna therapy as a complementary approach. Just remember to consult with a healthcare professional beforehand, and always use saunas responsibly.

Even better than visiting local spas and saunas is having one in your own home. Take a look through the Komowa collection today and consider installing your very own infrared sauna.


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