Golfers suffer from an array of injuries while playing their sport, from the very common neck injury to the strain on their backs from the walking, twisting, and eventual swinging of the club. Back pain is particularly tough on golfers as when your back is affected with pain, your whole body can become disjointed, and playing the game itself, much less even a simple putting stroke, can become impossible.
All athlete’s bodies suffer from constant wear and tear, and what has become nearly as important as how they train, is how they rebound from a workout or game day. The old staples of ice tubs and warm baths have been replaced by the concept of far-infrared therapy (FIR) saunas, as both professionals and weekend warriors alike have discovered their ability to speed up recovery. But don’t get too excited, it won’t help to straighten out that slicing driver.
What is Far Infrared?
Understanding how FIR works is relatively simple. As most of us learned in science class back in the day, only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum is visible by the naked eye. Infrared rays are the wavelength after the visible light on the spectrum, which has many well-known applications from heating, to night vision technologies. FIR increases the vibration of water molecules inside the cell, which in turn raises the temperature in microscopic regions by the electromagnetic energy, rather than heat.1
Far infrared saunas use infrared lamps, or heating sources, to release electromagnetic wavelengths, while traditional dry saunas simply heat the surrounding air to around 190 degrees which can then be absorbed by the body as much as 1.5 inches under the skin. But the air temperature inside an infrared sauna will only reach a much more tolerable 125 degrees Fahrenheit, some can heat up to 165º F
Sunlighten Saunas and How They Work
An increase in blood flow into deep tissue is one proven effect of the FIR concept, which is the primary benefit when looking at an athlete’s recovery.2 While it hasn’t been proven, it is believed that energy can perturb the structure of proteins, resulting in a physiological change on a cellular level.
Heating up your body increases blood flow, which is particularly helpful to reduce joint stiffness and muscle spasms. When used 24 to 48 hours post-injury, there is evidence to suggest that FIR can reduce the time the body needs to heal strains and sprains. But there are many other benefits, including the detoxing of chemicals and heavy metals from the body. By sweating, you excrete those toxins through your pores.
So how does it feel? Similar to the high received after a yoga class, after about 30 minutes inside the small, closet-sized saunas that are among the most popular, coupled with an assortment of acoustic mediation therapy and some colored lights for ambiance, the 125-degree warmth will effectively relax your mind and loosen tense muscles.
Clinical Study to Aid in Muscle Recovery
A 2015 study from the Journal of Athletic Enhancement tested the effectiveness of Far Infrared Therapy on a group track and field, baseball, and gymnastic athletes. A group of 10 male athletes studied, found that the use of FIR heat for a period of 40 minutes, resulted in an improvement of muscle recovery after a period of intense training, compared to those who used passive recovery methods.
So, while the old ways of sweating it out in a traditional sauna may be an indisputable way to cleanse and detox, the new FIR technology is a wonderful way to soothe muscle strain. All this along with decreasing the stress that comes from a rigid recovery routine can help you get back onto the course in less time.