Athletes the world over are using Infrared Therapy to help with recovery. Professional teams and coaches spend a great deal of money to make sure their athletes are in peak physical condition, and adequate recovery is the key to their success. Infrared Therapy helps, not only with recovery, but also with gaining and keeping muscular strength and endurance, and cardiovascular health.
Studies have shown that athletes that use Infrared Therapy at key times during their training are more likely to see enhanced results in their muscular strength and endurance. Since the light has an effect on the circulatory system, dilating blood vessels and promoting blood flow to the affected areas, using Infrared Therapy before or after training, depending on the desired affects, can produce marked gains in both strength and muscular endurance.
Infrared Therapy seems mostly aimed towards the non-athlete as far as Cardiovascular health is concerned, but the same effects can be applied to the athlete as well. Spending 10-20 minutes in an Infrared Sauna 3-5 times a week seems to have a beneficial effect on the strength of the heart and blood vessels, ensuring that blood pressure remains constant and heart rate is strong and steady. While the athlete will generally have a strong heart, as exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health, not all athletes are created equal. In the case of less strenuous sports, such as golf, and with individuals with a family history of heart disease, spending a relaxing hour or two in an Infrared Sauna every week is an easy way to keep their heart safe and healthy.
But as we know, in order for an athlete to continue training and performing at their best, they must spend a decent amount of time recovering. Training causes microtears in the muscles, which, when healed, encourage muscle growth and hypertrophy. But the body cannot heal these microtears if it is not given adequate time to rest. Infrared Therapy can boost the body’s natural ability to heal, both by bringing blood and nutrients to the areas required, but also flushing ‘toxins’ and other by-products of cellular work away from the muscles. DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – for instance, is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle fibers. Massage therapy is effective at reducing its effects, and when combined with Infrared Therapy, has the potential to work much faster.
Sleep is the other important part of the recovery calculation. The human body requires at least 7 hours of sleep a night, aligned to the individual’s circadian rhythm. This sleep should be peaceful and unbroken, complete with REM activation. Studies have shown that Infrared Therapy performed shortly before bedtime can play an active role in encouraging restful sleep. Several at-home products are available for personal use. Please speak with your Massage Therapist or doctor before purchasing, to ensure you acquire the product that is right for you.
Whatever your level of fitness, be it Olympic Athlete or Weekend Warrior, a combination of Massage Therapy and Infrared Therapy might be just the thing to keep you playing your best game.