Infrared Heating Pad - Deep Heat Therapy for Aches & Pains
Far Infrared Heating Pads offer a type of heat therapy that uses light in the infrared spectrum to treat minor aches, pains, sprains, and strains. The primary difference between infrared heat and traditional heat therapies is the way the heat is delivered to the user. While traditional heating pads transfer heat through the process of conduction, which only reaches the surface of the skin, infrared mats work by using light in the infrared spectrum, which is able to penetrate the skin in the form of heat at a depth of 3 to 7 centimeters, depending on the type of infrared. Deeper penetration means that users are able to get the heat directly to the site of injury. Because an infrared heating pad is effective at lower temperatures, there is a much lower risk of burning the skin. Infrared therapy products come in three varieties, listed as far-infrared (FIR), near-infrared (NIR), and red light. The most common type of infrared pad is those that use far-infrared.
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Why Choose an IR Heating Pad?
One study of office workers suggests that infrared heat therapy provides relief from lower back pain to those who spend long hours seated at their desk1. When using an infrared heating pad for back pain, a soothing warm sensation is felt right in the lumbar area.
Infrared light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which also includes all visible light as well as ultraviolet light; however, the infrared spectrum is invisible to the human eye. Infrared therapy is designed to increase blood flow to the affected area, aid the body's natural healing functions, and provide medicine-free pain relief. Infrared therapy is often combined with cold therapy as part of a pain management plan. These heating pads offer the following features:
- Gently Warm the Affected Area With Less Intense Heat Than Other Heating Pad
- Increase Blood Flow to Painful and Injured Areas
- Provide Heat That Penetrates Deeper Than Regular Heat Pad
- Reduce Inflammation
- Speed Soft Tissue Repair
- Provide Drug-Free Pain Relief
Types of IR Pads: Targeted Heat Where It's Needed
Far infrared delivers heat to the injury site through a pad placed against the skin. Some of these products are for general use, such as All-Purpose Thermotex Platinum Far Infrared Therapy Heating Pad, while other products are specifically designed for pain in certain parts of the body. Vitality Medical carries several far-infrared heat therapy products intended for specific types of pain relief, including:
- Thermotex Knee Far Infrared Heating Pad
- Thermotex Elbow Far Infrared Heating Pad
- Thermotex Foot Far Infrared Heat Pad
- Thermotex Wrist Far Infrared Heating Pad
Professional or Home Use
While infrared heating pads are great for home use, they are also used by physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other professionals in a clinical setting for pretreatment muscle warmup. The Thermotex Professional Far Infrared Heating Pad is an extra-large, professional-use pad that fits on a treatment bed or massage table and is meant to target the neck, back, and hip areas all at once.
Red Light vs. Near IR vs. Far IR
Infrared products are often designated as either far-infrared, red light, or — less commonly — near-infrared. The terms "far" and "near" don't refer to the location in relation to the body, but rather what wavelength of infrared light is being used. Far infrared is IR light that's further away from the visible light spectrum, whereas near-infrared is closer to the visible light spectrum. Red light "infrared" falls within the visible light spectrum, making it not actually infrared but very close to it on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Far infrared heat penetrates further into the body than near-infrared, and red light penetrates the shallowest. Selecting a far-infrared heat pad is a popular choice because the design penetrates soft tissue deeper and with more efficacy to the site of injury — even deep, intramuscular injuries. They may also help the body synthesize nitric oxide2, which is a natural vasodilator that increases blood flow to bring nutrients and oxygen to the injury more effectively. Because it does penetrate so deeply, far infrared therapy is used for deep tissue injuries such as torn or strained muscles. Popular infrared therapy brand Thermotex uses far infrared technology in its products.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an infrared pad used for?
People often use infrared heat therapy for daily aches and strains that can occur from overuse or after workouts. Some people find infrared heat to be helpful for relieving lower back pain caused by sitting for long periods.
Is infrared the same as ultraviolet? Is it dangerous?
No. Ultraviolet (UV) is a different wavelength. Whereas excessive UV is dangerous, infrared is completely safe.
How often can far infrared therapy be used, and for how long?
While there is no danger from far-infrared, it is best to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your heating pad. For example, Thermotex recommends using their products for 30-45 minutes up to four times per day, depending on the type of pain.
When should far-infrared not be used?
Never use far-infrared mats on the face or on areas with open wounds. Do not use on those with poor circulation or during pregnancy.
Video: How Far-Infrared Technology Works by Thermotex (0:55 Minutes)
1 Ervolino F, Gazze R. Far infrared wavelength treatment for low back pain: Evaluation of a non-invasive device. Work. 2015;53(1):157-62. doi: 10.3233/WOR-152152. PMID: 26409395. (Last Accessed August-30-2021)
2 Park JH, Lee S, Cho DH, Park YM, Kang DH, Jo I. Far-infrared radiation acutely increases nitric oxide production by increasing Ca(2+) mobilization and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II-mediated phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase at serine 1179.Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Jul 12;436(4):601-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jun 10. PMID: 23756809. (Last Accessed August-27-2021)