Sweat lodges, ceremonial saunas, bathhouses – heat therapy has been used by indigenous people all over the world since the beginning of time; the Greco Roman baths, the Middle Eastern hammam, the Russian banya, the Japanese Mushi-Buro sweat baths, the Native American sweat lodge, the Scandinavian sauna… and the list goes on!
Heat therapy’s ancient effects help treat a load of ailments, including muscle pain and stiffness, as well as swelling and inflammation. The reason heat therapy works so well is because of vasodilation—heat therapy dilates the blood vessels, which increases blood flow. Increasing blood flow also helps transfer heat from the skin surface deep into the muscles. All this extra blood circulation helps speed up healing and encourages tissue repair, helping to heal injuries, increase lymphatic drainage by moving along toxins lodged in tissues, reducing symptoms of pain, and decreasing depression and anxiety.
Heat therapy also increases oxygen and the supply of nutrients to cells and organ systems, while simultaneously ridding waste that is lodged in tissues. More oxygen and nutrients in the cells of the body result in a more functional physiological state, which in turn helps you sleep better, increases your ability to relax well, and even helps produce a clear, more illuminated complexion.
– The Sauna: This ancient method of heat therapy has been used as far back as 2,000 BC. Sauna therapy is dynamic and depends on the individual. Increasing immune function, decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and increasing cardiorespiratory functions are just a few of its benefits.
– Heat lamps: Heat lamps utilize what is called infrared heat, which offers a more direct and penetrating source of heat therapy. This mitigates things like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and more.
– Heating pads: Heating pads are generally electrically charged, but they also come as packs that can be heated in the microwave or oven. These offer a more direct and soothing heat, which is great to relax muscles, reduce stiffness, and provide relaxation.
– Sun-bathing: This age-old method of warming the body offers a load of benefits, including strengthening the bones (a product of Vitamin D synthesis, vital for health). Be wary of UVA and UVB rays, however: it is recommended to get a maximum of 15 minutes of sunbathing daily.
– Steam rooms: Steam is excellent for increasing circulation, allowing the body to more easily detox, in turn, improve cardiovascular health. Steam is also fantastic for congestion and allergies.
– Hot towels: Often used in massage or skin therapies, hot towels are a quick and easy way to provide the face or body with direct moist heat, helping to soften the tissues and improve circulation.
– Hot springs: Hot springs are infused with essential minerals from the earth that can be directly absorbed. Along with improving circulation and providing relaxation, hot springs also strengthen bones, improve skin tone, and detox the body.
– Hot Tub: Hot tubs are extremely beneficial in reducing arthritis pains, improving range of motion, and reducing pain in the joints. They are also extremely relaxing for the nervous system.
Written for Aevi by: Ceanna Saatsaz