Far infrared therapy uses far-infrared radiation (FIR), which refers to a subdivision of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Infrared is a type of invisible light
Far refers to the wavelength
Far-infrared therapy transfers the energy into heat, which penetrates 3-4 cm to the deeper tissue under the skin.
To better understand how FIR therapy works, you can compare the far-infrared sauna to a regular sauna.
A traditional sauna heats the air around you. It raises your body temperature to promote blood circulation and help relaxation.
A far-infrared sauna uses ceramic material that emits far-infrared light. The light will be absorbed into the human body. Of course, it's not that hot compared to the regular sauna.
Several kinds of materials serve the purpose of FIR therapy.
Research suggests that there is a correlation between the temperature and the amount of IR radiation.
That is to say, the hotter the FIR material is, the more FIR wave is emitted.
Heating FIR therapy relies on electric power to heat up the material.
Non-heating FIR therapy uses heat from the human body. Examples of this are far-infrared socks, gloves, other performance apparel, mattress, blanket, etc.
Apparently, non-heating FIR therapy is less effective as per the amount of radiant heat. But they are handier to wear around without a power cord attached.
Some people wonder what conditions can far-infrared radiation treat. It’s worth mentioning that far-infrared heat therapy cannot treat a specific disease, not even cancer. This heat therapy is mainly used for relaxation and pain relief. The proven benefits of FIR therapy are as follows.
Improved blood flow
Relief from joint pain and sore muscle
Acceleration healing from injuries
Help with menstrual cramps
The infrared heat from an FIR heating pad penetrates into deeper tissues that are 3-4cm under the skin.
This therapy is usually operated under mild temperatures. It makes you sweat less and do not overheat, which provides a comfy and relaxing experience.
It will also provide long-lasting relief, sometimes up to six hours after the end of therapy.
An ordinary electric heating pad applies heat to the skin surface. Because the temperature is fairly high, they are mostly being used during cold seasons.
Both the FIR heating pad and ordinary heating pad share the following benefits:
Improved blood circulation
Relaxation for sore muscles and aches.
Help with a healing injury
Relief from menstrual cramps
Since far-infrared heating pads use FIR-emitting fabrics, the price is slightly higher than the ordinary ones.
Their sizes usually come in 30x40 centimeters. You can place it on any parts of your body, mostly for back pain. Some of them are equipped with a strap to help the pad stay in place.
They are shaped to match your hands and feet, which helps apply heat more evenly to the desired area.
Neck and shoulder heating pads are specially designed for these areas, so you don’t have to adjust the placement or hold it all the time.
Waist heating pad belts come with adjustable straps, which perfectly fit well on your lower back and abdomen. It helps relieve menstrual cramps, stomach, and lower back pain.
The oversized heating pads are often referred to as electric blankets. These heating products are primarily used in bed or on the sofa. They provide a pleasant warmth that extends from the head to the feet. With an electric blanket, you have the option of heating up your bed, especially in the cold winter. Due to their size, these models cannot be used for specific body parts.
Is the FIR heating pad intended for a specific portion or is it multipurpose?
Some heating pads are designed for the neck, shoulder, and hands. With their size and shape, they are not suitable for back pain relief.
If you want to use it for different areas of the body, buy a multifunctional heating pad that can be placed on the back, belly, and joints. When rolled up, you can use it as a neck heating pad.
An automatic switch-off guarantees safety for you. Most heating pads turn off after 60 to 90 minutes.
If you fall asleep during use, the automatic function ensures that the device does not heat up continuously which could overheat as a result.
A heating pad with overheating protection offers you additional safety protection in addition to the automatic switch-off. If the temperature is too high, the power supply is deactivated directly.
Most models have three levels of temperature control. The majority of the heating pads work with an output of 100 watts, which gives you temperatures between 30 and 70 Celsius degrees.
The application of heat may cause you to sweat which is drawn into the cover. Dust and debris accumulate on the surface.
You might want an infrared heating pad designed with a removable cover or a separable control element. This makes it possible to clean the product in a washing machine.
Depending on where your electrical outlet is located, a longer power cord can be very helpful. Most models have a power cord that is approximately eight feet.
When using the heating pad, you should pay attention to a few points.
Connect the heating pad to the socket with the power cord.
During use, lay it flat on the intended parts of the body. Do not bend it if you want it to be more durable.
Do not sit on the heating pad, as otherwise, the heating elements can suffer a defect and the product can no longer distribute the heat evenly.
To heat up the heating mat quickly, select the highest temperature level and then adjust it to a comfortable level.
Most heating pads switch off automatically after 60-90 minutes. To use the heating pad again, press the power button and then set the temperature level again. The heating pad will then give you another 60-90 minutes of warmth.
Disconnect the product from the electrical circuit after use. This prevents it from being switched on unintentionally.
Do not put the entire heating pad into the washing machine. Only wash the cover and make sure it’s completely dry before use.
Chemical heating pads. These heating pads are filled with sodium acetate and a tiny piece of metal. Pressing the metal piece will trigger a chemical reaction inside the cushion. The sodium acetate crystallizes and heats up within seconds. A chemical heating pad will keep you warm for a few hours.
Microwave heating pads are made of anti-inflammatory fabric, which is filled with a heat-storing material. Rice, barley, or wheat are often used for the filling. Put it in the microwave and warm it up for a period of time. And then it is ready to use.
The hot water bottle is classic heat therapy. This heat source can be used flexibly because it does not require a power source. The disadvantage of the hot water bottle is that the heat is relatively short-lived. Compared to the electric pads, the hot water bottle is relatively small, so that it can only be used for smaller parts of the body. Another disadvantage is the material. It might lead to leakage of water if it is defective or improperly used. Holes, damage, or an improperly inserted cap can cause burns by the hot water.
Battery-operated hand warmers. The small device is very portable and compact. They provide heat conveniently and can be used on the go. Rechargeable hand warmers keep your hands toasty warm in winter. Sometimes they are used as heat therapy for people with Raynaud's.
Cherrystone thermal pillows. Cherry hot pillows work like chemical heating pads. They are particularly popular with babies and toddlers for stomach pain relief.
No side effects have been found in using an FIR heating pad so far.
Unlike the traditional heat therapy that tends to make you profusely sweat, FIR therapy is a light loading to the human body. A far-infrared heating pad is operated under low temperatures. It won't overheat your skin.