Infrared therapy turns up the heat on healing

If you have played sport, go to the gym or are just generally active you would probably be familiar with the term “second day soreness”.

It is where you do something active – this could include weeding the garden and using muscles you haven’t for a while – then find you are particularly stiff and muscle sore two days later.

You might be a little on the stiff and sore side one day later but for some reason it is 48 hours later that you really feel it.

I feel it when I play my first game of football every year, or return to my first training session and work muscles I haven’t for a few months.

But I also find it when I do something different, like yard work or a new gym class.

The technical term is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, and it is basically your muscles trying to repair themselves after you have given them a solid workout. That is a very non-scientific explanation but should give you the general idea.

Anyway, I am greatly familiar with it so when Shawna Hartley from The Salt Therapy in King Street, Newcastle, sent me an invitation to come and try their new Infrared Therapy, which could apparently help alleviate this kind of pain,I thought it sounded like something worth checking out.

Shawna suggested I go in after a particularly tough run or training session and, with my first ever trail run looming and guaranteed to leave me feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, I booked straight in.

She told me Infrared Therapy involved sitting in a sauna-like room which “uses wavelengths from the sun’s invisible colour spectrum that help our bodies heal”.

She said: “In contrast to conventional dry or wet saunas, it’s a very pleasant, relaxing heat that actually helps you eliminate far more toxins, which is why so many people with autoimmune conditions are turning to it”.

What interested me was when she said athletes were increasingly turning to it because it can aid muscle recovery and soreness and chronic injuries.

“We get people coming in the day after they’ve run marathons to help speed their recovery,” Shawna said.

Well, that was exactly what I would need after the 16-kilometre trail run through Glenrock I had signed up for earlier this month.

I hadn’t ran more than 11km in a very long time, had done limited hill work and had never really done trail running, so I was anticipating to be pretty sore in many places in the days to follow.

I woke up the day after the run feeling OK. I braced myself as I got out of bed but it wasn’t too bad.

I definitely felt like I had called upon muscles more than I had in a while, and as the day progressed I did start to feel stiffer and sorer, particularly through the hips, legs and even upper back.

I went into The Salt Therapy that afternoon with an open mind and Shawna took me into the sauna-like room, which I found to be quite pleasant.

I have never been one for spas or saunas because I don’t like the overheated feeling, so I was expecting to feel a little claustrophobic in there.

But I didn’t. 

It was warm in there and I got a good sweat up, which I read on one of the information pamphlets “was one of the easiest and most effective methods of detoxification”.

I also read that “infrared heat penetrates deeply into the tissue, muscles and joints, increasing circulation and speeding up oxygen flow through the body”, which can help speed healing.

Some of the reported benefits of the therapy included being a tool for people needing pain relief, muscle recovery and heavy metal detox.

I can report I slept particularly well that night and to be honest I woke up the next day and was still a little stiff and sore but it had not got any worse on the second day.

Then by the third I hardly felt sore at all.

When I reported it back to Shawna, she suggested I do another trail run the following week without the treatment to see the difference. But I think I will wait a bit longer before I take on another trail run that long.

HOT HEALING: Infrared therapy uses infrared light to create deeply penetrating heat that can help your body repair and eliminate toxic build-up.

HOT HEALING: Infrared therapy uses infrared light to create deeply penetrating heat that can help your body repair and eliminate toxic build-up.