How an Infrared Sauna Treats Soft Tissue Injuries Faster
Soft tissue injuries (STIs) are any type of damage to the “soft tissues” of the body, such as the tendons, ligaments, or muscles. The most common causes of soft tissue injuries are from strains, sprains, blunt impact, and overuse (repetitive strain) injuries. Following a soft tissue injury there is noticeable swelling, some movement loss to the affected area, as well as bruising. In healthy individuals, most soft tissue injuries will resolve on their own.
To speed up the healing process, some are looking at using an infrared sauna to heal soft tissue injuries. In this article, we will look at what goes on in a soft tissue injury, as well as how infrared saunas are used to promote faster healing of soft tissue injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries Defined
The term “soft tissue injury” sounds vague, but it is used to describe a number of injuries that affect the soft tissues of the body. As mentioned previously, a soft tissue injury can involve any type of soft tissue, such as the muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons. It’s worth noting that skin-only injuries fall under the category of “superficial injuries,” as they do not affect the underlying tissues or organs. Some of the most common types of soft tissue injuries are:
- Blunt trauma — While there are bone contusions, we are specifically talking about muscles contusions. If you’ve ever participated in a contact sport such as football, basketball, or hockey, then you know contusions are a near-weekly reality. A contusion is a type of impact-related soft tissue injury that typically causes the tissue to swell and bruise. Burst capillaries underneath the skin’s surface cause the resulting bruise. Minor contusions heal quickly and typically do not affect day-to-day activities by any measurable degree. Major contusions, on the other hand, can damage the underlying tissues, limiting certain physical activities.
- Repetitive strain injuries — Overuse and repetitive strain injuries most commonly appear in athletes and workers. These injuries typically occur after a muscle, tendon, or ligament strain has occurred, yet the repetitive motion (e.g., throwing a baseball, lifting a box overhead) continues to occur. Repetitive strain injuries can appear in the elbows, shoulders, neck, wrists, hands, forearms, and hands. In office workers, carpal tunnel syndrome is one frequent result of repetitive, low-force trauma to the hands and wrists.
- Sprains — Often confused with strains, sprains involve the overstretching or tearing of the tough, fibrous bands that connect two bones to form a joint. Some of the most common sprains are to ankles, thumbs, wrists, and knees, but can occur with any joint.
- Strains — Not to be confused with sprains, a strain involves the overstretching or tearing of tendons or muscles. While most easily understand the concept of muscles, it’s worth pointing out that tendons are the cord-like tissues that connect the bone to muscle. When a tendon is snapped or severed, the muscle can no long manipulate the bone to perform the desired movement.
Treating Sprains, Strains, RSIs, and Contusions with Infrared Saunas
Infrared saunas heal soft tissue injuries in a number of ways. Far-infrared therapies have proven so effective in healing soft tissue injuries that infrared saunas are often used by Team USA athletes and even NASA’s astronauts. Read on to see how infrared saunas work to heal soft tissue injuries. Some of these will definitely surprise you.
- Nutrient and oxygen delivery to cells — The primary mechanism in which infrared saunas are used to heal soft tissue injuries is through improved blood circulation. It is through blood that cells receive the nutrients they need to regenerate, prevent infection, and recover from injury. The far-infrared heat of infrared saunas penetrates deep into the body, helping blood vessels to dilate, promoting healing within the muscles. This action also brings much-needed pain relief to those suffering from soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, repetitive strain injuries, and contusions.
- Reduced stress and anxiety — Did you know that stress and anxiety actually get in the way of the healing process and negatively impact the immune system? When we are stressed or anxious, our brains secrete “stress hormones.” Cortisol and adrenaline are useful in escaping situations that could harm us, but these hormones also divert energy from the immune system in a temporary trade-off. After all, what good is an immune system if we can’t escape an immediate, life-or-death situation? The only issue is that our bodies haven’t evolved to the point of differentiating between an out-of-control car hurdling towards us or the anxiety we feel after a busy day at work — to our bodies, stress is stress. The moderate, radiant heat produced by an infrared sauna stimulates the “happy chemicals” in our brains, offering a far better relaxation experience than just chilling out on a couch.
- Detoxification — There is another aspect of how infrared saunas work to heal soft tissue injuries: detoxifications. Many use infrared saunas to detoxify the body. Why is this important to those with soft tissue injuries? Toxins can limit the body’s natural ability to heal itself. By eliminating toxins — heavy metals, dissolved plastics, pesticides, and other health-compromising substances that have no place in the human body — soft tissue injuries simply heal faster.
Beyond Your Soft Tissue Injury
Beyond healing your soft tissue injury, infrared saunas can improve a number of conditions while taking you to a deeper state of relaxation. You can read up on infrared saunas’ many health benefits on the Good Health Saunas® website.