Healthcare technology is a massive field and every year there are new machines and therapies being tested. While fads come and go, some technologies stick around to become tried and tested.
Far infrared is far from being a new technology (see what we did there?). This is one of the trusted methods for relieving discomfort and is becoming increasingly widely used.
Have you ever hugged a hot water bottle to relieve muscle cramp? Ever felt soothed by the warmth of a cup of tea? Warmth is relaxing and allows tension to ease. Far infrared technology takes this principle and applies it deep within tissue for ultimate relief from tension and discomfort.
Feeling cosy yet? Let’s take a look at what far infrared is and how it could help your clients.
What is Far Infrared?
Before we get started on far infrared, we should probably clear up infrared itself.
Infrared is a type of radiation that forms part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because its wavelengths are longer than those we see as the colour red (the visible colour with the longest wavelength), they’re called infra (below) red.
Over half the energy that reaches us from the sun is infrared. Everything gives off some level of infrared energy, however. As a result, it has a great many applications. Infrared isn’t just one wavelength though and instead, there’s an infrared spectrum that includes:
- Short-wavelength infrared
- Mid-wavelength infrared
- Long-wavelength infrared
- Far infrared
In the, let’s face it, epic, 1998 film Predator, the scary beast with dreadlocks sees in long-wavelength infrared which detects slight increases in heat, i.e. that which comes off a human body.
Infrared is used throughout medicine including for the detection and monitoring of brain injury in neonatal infants.
Okay, so let’s talk about far infrared.
Far infrared is the portion of the infrared spectrum in which the transfer of energy only occurs in the form of heat. This heat can penetrate into the body around 4cm deep, potentially further, leading researchers to study its potential for promoting cell repair below the skin.
Unlike a heater, far infrared warms your skin and tissues instead of the surrounding air. This means more targeted treatment can be given, more efficiently and at a deeper level.
Uses for Far Infrared
Far infrared is used widely in therapeutic settings as it’s safe, non-invasive and very effective at using heat to relieve discomfort. It has been shown to increase arterial and capillary blood flow, improve endothelial function, alleviate pain and reduce blood pressure.
Not bad for something that occurs completely naturally.
There are plenty of health conditions where infrared therapy forms part of the treatment plan. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. When it comes to physical therapy and sports therapy uses, far infrared can be extremely beneficial too.
Far infrared and physical therapy
As far infrared heats the skin and down into the tissue, it’s widely used to treat muscular injuries, reduce pain and relieve inflammation. Lower back pain affects vast swathes of the global population, particularly in the West, and is the leading cause of work absence. Using far infrared waistbands, researchers found that the treatment was effective in reducing pain in patients with chronic low back pain.
Other common conditions treated with far infrared include:
- Neck pain
You or your clients may already be familiar with infrared saunas, which emit far infrared. While effective at relaxing muscles and providing relief from some health problems, they’re limited by availability of use – in short, few people have access to one.
Far infrared mats and blankets are more commonly used, as is body-specific equipment, such as far infrared knee and elbow braces. Used against the skin, these emit infrared into the body and have external power supplies. By targeting specific areas, the client can be more comfortable in, for example a knee brace, than having to spend a certain amount of time in a sauna.
Thanks to the ease of use and wide-ranging benefits for athletes and those from suffering muscular injury and tension, far infrared technology is a mainstay of physiotherapy clinics.
Finding Far Infrared Equipment
There’s an awful lot of pseudoscience surrounding far infrared therapy unfortunately. Many outlets claim that is can detoxify the body by producing sweat. Of course, detoxing isn’t what sweat does, no matter how it’s produced. The liver and kidneys have the job of removing unwanted substances from the body.
As a result of this new-found trend for the therapy, there’s also plenty of ‘infrared’ equipment for sale, including a variety of crystals and other objects with nebulous claims. When buying far infrared equipment, it’s important that you also buy it from a reputable seller of healthcare equipment.
If you’re looking for high quality far infrared equipment, you can take a look at our full range here.