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Decoding Saunas: Infrared vs. Traditional - The Optimal Recovery Choice

In the realm of athletic performance and wellness, sauna sessions have become a cornerstone of recovery routines. The ongoing debate surrounding the benefits of traditional saunas versus their newer counterpart, infrared saunas, has left many enthusiasts pondering the ideal choice. At Thrive HQ Performance Physiotherapy, we unravel the advantages of both to help you make an informed decision tailored to your unique recovery needs.


Infrared Saunas: The precision in healing heat of infrared saunas stand out for their ability to deliver radiant heat that penetrates the body's tissues more effectively than traditional counterparts. With lower temperatures and deeper tissue penetration, these saunas offer a comfortable and sustainable session, promoting increased blood flow and aiding muscle recovery. The resulting reduction in muscle soreness and improved joint flexibility make infrared saunas a valuable asset for athletes seeking targeted and efficient recovery.


Traditional Saunas: Conversely, traditional saunas rely on convection and conduction to heat the air, subsequently warming the body. While operating at higher temperatures, these saunas provide a deep, detoxifying sweat that enhances circulation. Beneficial for cardiovascular health, stress reduction, and overall relaxation, traditional saunas attract those prioritizing holistic well-being.


Choosing the Ideal Sauna: A personalized approach deciding between infrared and traditional saunas ultimately depends on your individual preferences and recovery goals. Generally speaking, infrared saunas offer an advantage for those looking for more muscle recovery after tough workouts. However, if you're just looking to sweat it out and improve blood circulation a traditional sauna can do the trick.


How to start: Embarking on a sauna routine involves adherence to evidence-based protocols to ensure a safe and effective experience. To initiate sauna use safely, it is recommended to start with shorter sessions (10-15 minutes) at lower temperatures (100-125 degrees F for infrared and 130-150 deg traditional), gradually increasing both duration and heat intensity as tolerance builds (up to 20-30 minutes at 120-140 deg F for infrared and 150-175 for traditional). This gradual approach allows the body to acclimate to the heat stress, minimizing the risk of adverse reactions such as dehydration or overheating. Adequate hydration is paramount, emphasizing the importance of consuming water before, during, and after sauna sessions. If you are a heavy sweater consider replenishing with an electrolyte solution (like LMNT) afterwards. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions or concerns should seek guidance from a healthcare professional before incorporating sauna use into their routine. Regular breaks during sessions and immediate cessation in the presence of dizziness or discomfort further contribute to a safe and enjoyable sauna experience, aligning with evidence-based practices for optimal well-being.


At Thrive HQ, we recognize the uniqueness of every individual's recovery needs. If you don't have access to a sauna or you just want to explore other ways to aid in your recovery game, we offer a diverse range of recovery modalities such as dry needling, cupping, joint manipulations, and soft tissue/bodywork that can help to manage the aches and pains that can accumulate with daily life and/or strenuous training. To embark on a personalized recovery journey, take advantage of our free 30-minute consultation. Our expert team will assess your requirements, providing guidance on the most effective combination of recovery modalities, in addition to lifestyle modifications, accessory programming and movement coaching to help you thrive in your performance goals. Book your consultation today and discover the transformative power of targeted recovery at Thrive HQ Performance Physiotherapy.


Thanks for reading!


Dr. Greg



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