In this blog post, I’ll talk about the best infrared heat lamp for muscle pain. I argue that for the best method of countering muscle pain, you not only need a local treatment but also a systemic treatment. In other words, if you’ve got a painful shoulder, it’s best to not only treat that shoulder with infrared but your entire body.
For that reason, I consider either a full-spectrum sauna or a far infrared sauna with a Clearlight® Light Therapy Tower your best option. But first I’ll dig into the scienc of msucle pain and that of infrared heat (lamps). At the end of this blog post, I’ll explain why the products I recommend are the best for the task.
Let’s begin with the science of muscle pain:
Muscle Pain Science
Many different types of muscle pain exist (1; 2; 3; 4; 5). There’s general muscle pain, musculo-skeletal pain, soreness, cramps, referred pain, and a few others. All of these types of pain originate from different reasons.
For instance, two days after a hard workout, you might have what is called “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” in a muscle. Or, after working on your home during the summertime, you might overload the tendons of your shoulders - called “musculoskeletal pain”. Alternatively, you might have a neck injury and the nerves around the spine will give you referred pain in your shoulder.
Overall, there’s no “universal” thing called “muscle pain”. Pain in muscles can have many different causes. Those causes, in turn, determine what the best course of action is. For general muscle pain a massage, light movement, and exposure to infrared heat will be wonderful. For other types of pain, these strategies won’t necessarily help much.
However, as it will turn out in a next section, infrared heat has a positive effect on a wide array of different types of pain. I’ll explore these domains soon. And, such solutions are extremely helpful.
Muscle pain isn’t rare - almost 50% of the general population has muscle pain. Sure, you might simply have tight shoulders and a tight neck from sitting too much, or, you might already have chronic lower back pain that has lasted for years. In many of these cases - but not all - infrared heat will help.
One downside is that not all muscle pain is automatically cured. In 40% of the cases, there are long-lasting problems requiring medical consultation. At any given moment, that means 40% of 50% of the population - a whopping one in five people you meet - have chronic muscle pain. And, pain is not just very uncomfortable, it also leads to missed working days, not being able to perform, and reduced quality of life.
And sure, you can take pharmaceuticals to counter the pain - but these rarely are a long-term solution. Or you could visit a physical therapist but many people don’t want to spend too much money on a therapist to counter pain.
For that reason, infrared heat is a wonderful alternative that I’ll explore next. Infrared can help you counter pain without having any side effects like many pharmaceutical medicines have. But before explaining the effects of infrared heat on pain though, I’ll first distinguish between different types of infared:
Infrared Basics: Near Infrared, Middle Infrared, Far Infrared
From a physics perspective, three different types of infrared exist: near, middle, and far infrared. Explaining the difference between these types of infrared is important because it helps you better understand my choice for the best infrared heat lamp for muscle pain UK that I’ll later recommend.
Here’s the reason why:
Ideally you’ll want to be exposed to all three types of infrared heat because all of them have different benefits for pain. So, if you’re merely opting for a far infrared sauna, or an infrared heat lamp that uses near infrared, you’re not getting the maximum benefits.
But let’s take a step back and explain what infrared light fundamentally is:
“Infrared radiation”, also called “infrared light” and “infrared heat” is part of the electromagnetic spectrum in physics (6; 7; 8). Infrared light is all around you though, and closely related to heat (9; 10). So, if your body is hot it’s expelling infrared heat. And, the night vision cameras can detect you at night is because your body is emitting infrared heat as well.
As stated before, different types of infrared light exist: near, middle, and far. Many different studies have been carried out on these infrared types. I’ve written blog posts about these different infrared types before, such as on far infrared saunas and on infrared light therapy at home.
Most of the infrared light spectrum is heating. That means that when this infrared light hits your skin, it will warm up your tissues. The infrared light also interacts with your cells by increasing the water temperature and affecting energy production at the cellular level (11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17).
And in an infrared sauna, you’re exposed to lots of infrared heat. Normally, you’re exposed to far infrared but many infrared saunas can be upgraded to be full-spectrum so that middle and near infrared are also included. Another way to include near infrared light into a far infrared sauna is by adding a Clearlight® Light Therapy Tower. As of this time, we’re the only infrared sauna company offering that near infrared light therapy inside sauans.
And, as a result of the infrared heat exposure, you’ll start sweating and your blood flow will change. Many other biological processes are affected as well, such as pain. In the next section, I’ll therefore explore a few studies focusing on infrared saunas and pain - specifically zooming in on different infrared types:
Infrared Heat And Pain Studies
So let’s explore some sauna studies in relation to (muscle) pain. While I’m oversimplifying a bit, the effects of traditional saunas can somewhat be equated to far infrared saunas because both increase the body’s temperature. So let’s look at studies that use either of these:
- Regular sauna visits counter lower back pain (18). Pain significantly decreases the more sessions are taken. The same is true for disability, a frequent consequence of (chronic) pain. Fortunately, there are no side-effects using a sauna to counter back pain, and, quality of life of the study participants improved. And, the best thing is that lower back pain is one of the most frequent reasons people cannot work or feel back because of hurt muscles.
- Saunas also counter rheumatoid pain and that of the peripheral nervous system (19; 20). The first type of pain, rheumatoid pain, can be considered a “muscle pain”. While more research is needed, preliminary outcomes are promising. Some people with rheumatoid pain do worse with high heat, however, especially women. Men generally tend to respond better to heat as a pain intervention for rheumatoid pain.
- Saunas impede pain from fibromyalgia, which affects muscles as well (21). In a study, saunas were used as a tool in a broader health program. Study participants used the sauna three times per week. After 12 weeks, self-reported pain was reduced by 31-77%. That pain also remained relatively stable in the 6-month folllowup period.
- One more study considered the effects of five sauna sessions on chronic lower back pain (22). 70% of participants reported a good or excellent treatment of their pain. Quality of life also improved.
Now, in addition to traditional and far infrared saunas, there are also effects from near infrared. The research on middle infrared is currently very limited. So let’s therefore explore the studies currently available on near infrared light, solely focusing on muscle pain:
- For musculoskeletal pain, near infrared exposure both enhances quality of life and lowers overall treatment costs of pain interventions (23; 24). For instance, near infrared light exposure can lower the amount of pain you feel, decrease inflammation, and lead to quicker healing of the underlying injury. All of these benefits entail that it might be an aid to reduce dependence on pharmaceutical interventions and other means to cope with (chronic) pain.
- For lower-back pain - specifically the “sacro-iliac joint” located above your glutes - the near infrared is also helpful (25). The study investigating these effects included few participants though, which is a downside. However, blood flow around the ligaments, effects on the nervous system, and how the joint is affected itself may explain why near infrared light exposure works here.
- For plantar-fasciitis, near infrared light exposure works as well (26). Pain is reduced, or instance. The treatment isn’t better than alternatives like shockwave therapy but is still helpful. In plantar fasciitis, there’s a problem in the muscles and connective tissue at the bottom of your foot, often caused by running and other sports.
- Different types of near infrared counter neck pain (27; 28). And, while more research is needed here, the results are very promising. Several studies share this conclusion.
Overall, there’s thus evidence that near infrared light/heat works very well to counter different types of muscle pain.
So here’s the most important conclusion of this section:
For the best results, you’ll want to combine the effects of far infrared light and near infrared light, because both have positive effects on reducing pain.
Also, remember that I stated in the introduction that you’ll want to have these types of infrared light affect your body as a whole. So you’re not just looking for a local treatment. Here’s why:
By spending time in an infrared sauna, you’ll become really relaxed. In fact, both stress reduction and pain relief are the most important reasons people visit saunas in the first place (29). Many people with mental issues or muscle pain visit sanas specifically for the relief it will bring. More than 80% of people visiting a sauna also report sleeping better at night, which in turns will counter (chronic) muscle pain.
Also, spending time in a sauna releases natural pain killers called “endorphins” (30; 31). That effect is similar to the feeling you get when you have a “runner’s high”. Those natural pain killers, in turn, help you deal with the muscle pain. But once again, you’ll exclusively get this benefit if you’re actually exposing most of your body to heat. Using a heat lamp that only treats your shouler muscles or those around the elbow won’t have the same effect.
And, the greater amount of relaxation people get from spending time inside a sauna can actually be measured. In this case, so-called “Heart Rate Variability” (HRV) measurements can be taken. HTV depends on the measurement of the intervals between your heartbeats. The higher that HRV, the more relaxed you are and vice versa. If you spend a normal amount of time inside an infrared sauna (so not excessively), your HRV will trend up over time (32; 33; 34).
So in several different ways, infrared saunas support overall relaxation and the decrease of pain on a full-body level. With that finding in mind, let’s search for the best infrared heat lamp for muscle pain UK:
Best Infrared Heat Lamp For Muscle Pain UK
So, finally, the best infrared heat lamp for muscle pain UK needs to accord to two main criteria:
- The device needs to emit a combination of near, middle, and far infrared.
- There should not only be a local effect (such as on your shoulder or knee) but also a systemic effect - for your entire body
Of course, you’ll want to include some other criteria as well, such as that the device should be easy to use, treatments shouldn’t cost too much time, and the device should be affordable.
The best option you have here, with the aforementioned criteria in mind, is to either opt for a full-spectrum infrared sauna or a far infrared sauna with a Clearlight® Light Therapy Tower. Both options expose you to the unique combination of different types of infrared, thereby giving you the most benefit.
One downside here is that purchasing a sauna is generally more expensive. So whether you’ve got short-term pain due to a sports injury or whether you’ve got chronic pain that has lasted for year kind of matters in this case. With a simple problem, an inexpensive heat lamp that emits infrared light would suffice. For the greatest number of benefits, however, I’d recommend the two aforementioned solutions.
I’ll elaborate on that statement a bit in the conclusion below:
Conclusion: Heat Lamps Are Decent But Better Solutions Exist
So let’s consider heat lamps for muscle pain. Sure, you can use a heat lamp locally on a muscle that hurts. And doing so will work decently and is pretty cost-effective.
In case there’s a minor problem such as a short-term injury in your hamstring, I recommend such a solution. Many other people have chronic muscle pain that has lasted a long time though. In such a case, I recommend using a full-spectrum sauna or a far infrared sauna with a Clearlight® Light Therapy Tower.
Also, if you're interested check out the page we have on muscle aches and pain health benefits of infrared saunas. You can also check out other health benefits of infrared saunas.