If there’s one thing any athlete knows, it’s that the recovery period after your workout is just as important as the workout itself. Just ask professionals like LeBron James and Russell Wilson, who each spend millions of dollars every year on recovery so they can get back to perfecting their craft in as little time as possible.
The average athlete, unlike LeBron, can’t afford that much upkeep (hyperbaric chambers aren’t exactly cost-effective). However, there are some new and exciting technologies that can give you some of the effects of these recovery methods for a fraction of the cost. One of these technologies is the use of electromagnetic radiation in the form of Far Infrared Rays or FIR for short
In the same way that the sun produces visible light, it also emits light of longer and shorter wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye. When you step outside and feel the warmth of the sun, you’re actually feeling infrared radiation that has traveled millions of miles from the sun to Earth’s surface!
FIRs can also be produced when certain materials, usually metal, get heated up. If you've ever stood near a piece of metal that has turned red from heating, the warmth you feel is a result of FIRs emitted from the metal.
Let’s start with a quick Biology lesson on how the body’s circulatory system functions. You inhale air into your lungs, which is about 20% oxygen on average. The lungs then take the oxygen from the air and attach it to red blood cells. Your heart acts like a pump, carrying the oxygenated blood all over your body through a sophisticated system of vessels, veins, and arteries, where cells extract energy from the oxygen to power organs and muscles.
When you perform intense exercise, your muscles can’t produce enough energy with oxygen alone, and use a parallel process to create energy that has lactic acid as a byproduct. This lactic acid is what gives you the feeling of fatigue and soreness, both during and after exercise.
What do FIRs have to do with this? This type of light has numerous effects on the body. The first is simple: heat expands the blood vessels in a process called vasodilation, allowing for increased blood flow to the muscles. Increased blood flow means more oxygen to the muscles, and less lactic acid (which means less fatigue and soreness!). The benefit of using FIR’s over a heating pad is that the muscles are actually poor conductors of heat. Whereas a heating pad or traditional sauna can only really heat the skin, FIR’s are able to penetrate much deeper into the muscles, leading to a more widespread effect.
The second effect of FIRs is a little more complex. The mitochondria (AKA the powerhouse of the cell) that produce energy are very sensitive to light. When they are “excited” by FIRs, they go into overdrive, producing a by-product that attaches to red blood cells, increasing the amount of oxygen they can hold. Increased oxygen capacity in red blood cells means more oxygen to your muscles, again reducing lactic acid buildup and making you feel better.
There are multiple different ways you could approach FIR therapies. One is through the use of an FIR Sauna. These are saunas that produce heat through FIRs, rather than directly heating the air. This creates deeper heating than regular saunas, without the intense warmth and sweating. Chances are you won’t have this in your home (unless you really are LeBron), but your gym might have one available to members.
Another, more affordable option is to wear fabrics with FIR properties. New technologies have allowed yarn manufacturers to embed special minerals within their fabrics. Sometimes called “Bioceramics”, these minerals take the heat emitted by the body and convert that heat into FIRs reflected back into the muscles, creating a gentle heating effect deep in the muscles. This heating provides all the benefits described above, speeding up your recovery, and reducing muscle fatigue and soreness during and after exercise.
Zensah is introducing its first ever line of products made with this innovative technology, the Infrared Recovery line. In addition to FIR properties, these products are anti-bacterial, anti-odor, moisture-wicking, UV protective, breathable, and ultra comfortable. If you would like to be notified when our brand new product line launches, sign up here so you can be the first to experience all the benefits of Zensah Infrared Technology!
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