Body wraps have been around in the spa market for decades, but recently surging in popularity are infrared body wraps. Spa owners looking to bring in a new body treatment may wonder what it is, what benefits it confers, the costs associated and if it could have any drawbacks. This article will address those issues to help spa owners and professionals in their decision-making process.
What It Is
Before jumping into what infrared radiation does, we must first define it. Infrared radiation (IR) is a type of electromagnetic radiation, with other types being X-rays, radio waves, ultraviolet rays and microwaves. The wavelengths of IR are longer than visible light, making it invisible. Much like visible light, IR produces thermal radiation or heat. The invisible heat waves produced by the infrared body wrap assist in weight loss, cellulite reduction, pain relief, relaxation and skin rejuvenation.
Weight loss is the most popular reason that people choose to get an infrared body wrap. As we know, sweat consumes calories, and an infrared body wrap produces three to five times more sweat than exercise. In a 30-minute session, it is possible to burn up to 600 calories.
Infrared also helps to balance metabolism by speeding up the metabolic rate at which calories are burned with the effects lasting after the session. Insulin levels can also be restored to normal after toxins are purged by encouraging the body to not store carbohydrates as fat.
Cellulite is a woman’s worst nightmare, right? We use creams and treatments trying to get rid of it, only to achieve temporary plumping. So, what makes the sauna blanket different from the rest?
First, let’s explain how cellulite forms. Cellulite is fat deposits that push up against the connective tissue underneath the skin and cause a dimpled appearance. This is especially true for women on the back of their thighs and bottoms. Fat turns into water when body heat reaches over 100.5°F, and this water can then be expelled through the body by sweat. Collagen is lost with age, but cellulite can be eliminated if collagen connective tissue can be rebuilt. The infrared heat does this by increasing blood circulation, which results in more nutrients being brought to the skin. Infrared heat also assists with releasing cytokines. When cytokines get released, fibroblasts are created to produce collagen. Think of it as a controlled wound: When skin is wounded, new cells are created to repair the damage—collagen-producing cells being one of the many.
Pain can be alleviated through the infrared body wrap. Heat increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, and this will help heal damaged muscle tissue. It does this by increasing the rate of the blood flow from approximately six quarts per minute all the way up to 13 quarts per minute. Imagine how much more oxygen rich-blood and healthy nutrients are flowing to the wounded muscles.
Infrared heat therapy has also shown its effectiveness on irritated nerve endings by reducing the pain associated with nerve disorders, such as fibromyalgia. Other ailments can benefit from this pain-relieving therapy, such as leg pain with peripheral arterial disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This treatment has shown to help patients with leg pain walk almost twice as far as before having the treatment. Chronic pain of all kinds can greatly benefit from the sauna blanket. This is a relief for many pain sufferers seeking a route other than pills and also great news for holistic practitioners.
Treatment with an infrared sauna blanket helps relax the client and reduce their stress. Stress is responsible for 75–90% of doctor-related visits, according to The American Institute of Stress.1 Infrared therapy also helps maintain healthy levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is also known as the stress hormone because it can cause heart rate and blood pressure to rise.
For skin rejuvenation, infrared heat can help with a variety of skin issues, such a fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Humans lose collagen and elastin with age. While collagen is a molecule that can be put back in the skin topically, elastin is a molecule that is too large for topical use. Going back to the controlled injury theory, injured skin will repair itself with new collagen and elastin-producing skin cells. Expelling the stress toxins from the body allows it to restore healthy metabolic rates to assist in skin repair.
Infrared Wrap Protocol
Step 1. Lay the sauna blanket on the table and a sheet on top of it to make a barrier between the skin and the blanket. This will prevent the skin from getting too hot or irritated. Lay three separate pieces of plastic wrap for the chest, abdomen, thighs and buttocks, with upper arms being optional.
Step 2. Once the room is completely prepared, instruct the client on how to position themselves on the table. It may be better for clients to not wear undergarments during the procedure, as they can get filled with sweat. Leave the client towels to cover themselves so they don’t ruin their clothes.
Step 3. Once the client is properly positioned, apply a collagen producing cream. The infrared heat will open the pores, allowing the collagen molecule to penetrate easily.
Step 4. Wrap the client tightly in the plastic wrap and zip them up in the blanket with their arms enclosed and only the head sticking out for 45 minutes at 85ºF. This will raise the client’s body temperature significantly to over 100.5°F, the temperature which is needed to turn fat into water so the client can sweat it out.
Step 5. After the procedure, make sure the client drinks plenty of water and stays hydrated. They just detoxed and could get dehydrated easily.
The costs of the blankets run anywhere from $150–$750, depending on the vendor. We price infrared wrap treatments at $150 for a 30-minute treatment and $225 for up to 60 minutes. At this cost, technicians could make their money back within three to six treatments.
Before an infrared body wrap, clients should always be instructed to check with his or her doctor. Have the client fill out a full intake and client consent form. After the client fills out the proper paperwork, it is advised to sit down with them and go over it carefully for at least 15 minutes. As a technician, make sure that you are covered with insurance. Most clients have good intentions, but you never know what may happen or could go wrong. Also, take pictures of the client before and after the treatment. These steps will ensure that both you and your client are covered.
Cautionary conditions. People with multiple sclerosis, broken bones, hemophilia, fever and heat sensitivity need a medical release before using the sauna blanket. Those who are advised to not use the treatment include those with stroke, lupus, heart attack, heart conditions or brain tumors.
Heat exhaustion. Clients should also be advised that overheating, i.e. heat stroke and heat exhaustion, can occur. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke usually only occur if a client uses the blanket more than three times a week. It is not recommended to do infrared body wraps more than three times a week. It is also not recommended to do them back to back. These sessions should be spaced out over a couple of days.
Medications and drugs. There are also certain medications that can cause an adverse reaction from the sauna blanket, such as insulin and medicated skin patches. If a client has taken medications in the past, such as sedatives, chemotherapy drugs or antidepressants, the sauna blanket can release any remaining residues of such medications back into the blood stream. This also goes for illegal drug use, so communication is of utmost importance.
The infrared body wrap is an effective treatment in weight loss, stress management, cellulite reduction or elimination, skin rejuvenation and relaxation. The benefits far outweigh the risks as long as your client is in good health. I would recommend this treatment over and over again.
- www.stress.org/americas-1-health-problem/ (Accessed Feb 8, 2017)