If you've ever looked for an infrared sauna guide, you've no doubt figured out most of it - get in and sweat. But there is more to using an infrared sauna correctly and safely. To begin, you at least need to know what to wear in an infrared sauna, what temperature to use, and how long to stay in an infrared sauna.
Before the Sauna
Before the sauna, you should drink a glass of water or other hydrating drink (like a sports drink; not coffee, soda, or alcohol.)
Next, every infrared sauna guide will tell you to take a quick shower to get dirt, dry skin, and any soap or lotion residue off your skin.
If you want to do a dry brush to increase your circulation and the benefits of the sauna, then do that before you shower. It's not necessary, but it sure does feel good!
You should wear as little as possible in a sauna, and ideally you should wear nothing. However, if you're using a public sauna or even popping into your friend's sauna, unclothed may not be an option. If you're going to wear clothes, wear loose-fitting clothes that breathe, like shorts and a tank top or loose cotton t-shirt, or a bathing suit even.
If you're going to sauna unclothed, you should take in at least two towels with you-one to sit on and one to wipe sweat with.
Even if you wear clothes, you should still take in a towel to wipe sweat from your body.
Set the temperature fairly low if you're new to a sauna. Traditional hot-rock and steam saunas operate at about 170 - 200 degrees. Some people find this uncomfortable, even intolerable.
The beauty of an infrared sauna is that you can gain the benefits of sweating at much lower temperatures. This is important if you have been unable to tolerate the heat of a traditional sauna for very long.
If you're new to saunas altogether, and have never looked at an infrared sauna guide, start your infrared sauna sessions at about 100 degrees. If that's comfortable for you, then bump the temperature up by about 5 degrees every time until you reach the temperature you like the best for the time you like to spend in the sauna.
Infrared sauna guide: During the Sauna
How long to stay in a sauna depends on several factors. First, listen to your body and don't over do it.
If you're new to using an infrared sauna, start with a lower temperature and stay in for maybe 5-10 minutes. But if you start feeling faint, claustrophobic, or anything else uncomfortable, by all means cut the session short or open the sauna door for a bit. As you get used to the sauna experience, you will be able to tolerate longer and longer stays. An average sauna is about 25-35 minutes, but some people stay in as long as 45 minutes to an hour.
If you have health conditions or are sick, keep the sessions on the lower side at first until you build up tolerance. When you first start to sauna with health issues (and please, check with your doctor first!), start at about 5 minutes, unless you're able to easily tolerate more time. You might only be able to tolerate one session a week if you have health issues, and that's fine. Work towards increasing time spent in the sauna and the number of saunas per week to about 30 minutes each day for the best overall benefit. (Better to use your infrared sauna less than you anticipated at first than to overdo it and do yourself harm.)
You can take drinks into the sauna with you, but again, only water or sports drink. Don't drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol before or during a sauna.
If you want to listen to music or read, that's fine, too. In fact, infrared saunas come with the option to purchase a quality, heat and moisture-proof sound system. Your walkman or MP3 player will work, too, but remember you'll be sweating, so the unit and ear buds may get sweaty.
Infrared sauna guide: After the Sauna
After you're done in the sauna, take a warm to cool shower to remove sweat and toxins from your skin. If possible, avoid putting soap and especially lotion on your skin, which will only clog the pores you just cleansed. A cold water rinse will close up your pores quickly and leave your skin feeling incredibly and naturally smooth.
You might feel the need to relax before getting back to your day. Listen to your body. A sauna is relaxing, so why not savor the invigorating and relaxing feelings for a while.
Infrared sauna guide: Tips to remember
Sometimes medications we've taken get stored in fat cells. Some people say we have memories and emotions locked in our cells. As the infrared light penetrates your body and stirs up cells, you might experience old emotions or taste old medication. This is not abnormal and is what you want - to get rid of the stuff still in your body that should not be there.
Generally speaking, almost every infrard sauna guide will tell you that children under 5 shouldn't be in a sauna at all. Older children should always be supervised. If you're pregnant or have a significant illness, please consult your physician before using a sauna.
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