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What is an Infrared mat?
An infrared mat is a recently made widespread health device which promotes active positive cell activity and healing throughout the body. It does this through the use of far infrared light, part of the electro-magnetic light spectrum which is close to the frequency of the sun. What is missing from the infrared mats are the harmful UV rays that also come along with sunlight.
Research on this technology was first initiated by NASA many years ago with it recently gaining more attention from the scientific community, and agreement across medical professions regarding its efficacy.
Now there are numerous brands of far-infrared mat manufacturers , with the mats using crystal, and varied crystal technology to generate the FIR waves being regarded as the most effective.
See some well known infrared mats on our page, Infrared Mats Review.
Are Infrared Heating Pads Better than Regular Heating Pads?
Are infrared heating pads any better than regular heating pads is actually a relatively simple answer, yes they are.
The primary difference is in the way which heat is transmitted to the body, a regular heating pad is just hot on the surface, heating your skin.
An infrared pad uses infrared light, which just like the light of the sun can “warm you from within” and penetrate up to a few inches with its heat.
This makes infrared pads far superior to regular heating pads for circulation & all the benefits which come with it like pain relief and muscle recovery.
Do Infrared Heating Pads Really Work?
The short answer to do infrared heating pads really work is, yes they do.
Naturally this depends what you want the heating pad to work for.
If you’re looking for improved circulation, pain relief, and improved muscle recovery, there’s nothing that really works better than an infrared heating mat.
What kinds of FIR (far-infrared) mats are out there?
With the recent interest in FIR healing technology there are now a number of brands competing in the market sector. This leads to varied options in products available, from small to large, to extra large and from crystal FIR, to multi-crystal FIR, to crystal-less or ceramic FIR mats.
There are even belt style FIR mats, mini sitting mats, full size lay down mats, and over the shoulder mats to choose from.
This editor recommends first choosing what type of FIR technology you would like. For example, single crystal, multi-crystal, or no crystal (ceramic), and once having done this then decide what size of mat you would like. Deciding both these factors first will narrow your search to likely just a couple different mats to choose from, then the final decision can be made based on warranty/support & overall price.
Where did the technology originate?
Infrared light was originally discovered by Sir William Herschel in the early 19th century, however its use as a healing therapy only really began in the 1960’s with NASA looking for ways to keep their astronauts healthy while in space. Far infrared heat is something that the body naturally emits small amounts of and we naturally absorb from the sun. It is one of two things than humans need from the sun to survive, vitamin D, and far infrared light. Just as a mother’s hand to a child’s forehead has been known to offer comfort and recovery to the child when sick, so is the intended function of far-infrared mats and saunas of today.
Both Germany and Japan are well known for their extensive research in the field of far infrared therapy, Japan had well over 150 patents granted between 1977-1987 alone. Today there exists even an “infrared society” in Japan comprised of physical therapists and doctors alike who are committed to furthering the technology in this field.
Many far infrared mats of today utilise the far infrared light wavelengths generated when a current is applied to the amethyst crystal (Jade, and Tourmaline among other crystals are also used in various mats). Researchers have demonstrated that the different crystals and ceramics will produce varying styles of far infrared wavelengths. Further to this research, they have found that the wavelength created by the amethyst crystal is the closest to the far infrared wavelength created by the human body, (a mothers hand on her child’s forehead). The key difference between a mother’s hand and a FIR mat being that the mat can emit a much more powerful wavelength than the human body. (interesting that amethyst crystals have long been regarded as beneficial to healing through-out history, before far-infrared was discovered).
How does FIR work?
Far infrared (FIR) works by stimulating the cells and tissues of the body by energizing them through evenly distributed heat using the 3-12 μm wavelength range of the electro-magnetic spectrum.
Far infrared is a part of the electro-magnetic light spectrum that research has shown has effects on biological tissue. It is at the far end of the spectrum in the band of light not visible to the human eye. You will know the feeling of the rays of the sun on your skin and the warmth you feel, this is the far-infrared portion of the light spectrum lending its heat to you. This far infrared light stimulates the cells and tissue of the body the same way in which the sun does through its heat.
The stimulation of cells and body tissue goes to varying degrees of depth depending on wavelength strength (of the far-infrared mat in use), anywhere from 2”-6” in depth of penetration. This stimulation of the body tissue at a cellular level is how far-infrared promotes healing in the body. It improves and allows micro-circulation between cells, hinders the growth of bacteria, increases the available energy to all surrounding tissues, diminishes muscle tension and body stress while promoting lymph vessel & node cleansing.
The list of benefits is long and you can read more on the as well as check out the extensive research performed on the topic.
What is negative ion therapy?
Negative ion is simply a term given to any molecule which has a net negative charge. This occurs whenever a molecule has more negative electrons, or anions, than it does positive cations at any given moment.
There are various ways in which air molecules can become negatively charged, “negative ions”. This is actually a phenomenon that occurs naturally in our world through sunlight, radiation and especially around moving water (particularly present around waterfalls). Just think, have you ever noticed that the air seems fresher in these types of places? Next to a river, water fall, the or the ocean? This is the “Lennard Effect”, coined by Dr. Phillip Eduard Anton Lennard, a Nobel prize winner who confirmed that negative ions can be found in particular abundance in the vicinity of bodies of water, especially moving water. Colliding molecules of water will become positively charged, which inherently negatively charge the surrounding air.
There have been many studies on negative ions and their effects. One study showed that ionizing a space reduced airborne dust by 52% and reduced the airborne bacteria by up to 95%. Pub Med Study
These anions which when outnumbering cations on any molecule create a “negative ion” can also be found in certain minerals, for example tourmaline.
High concentrations of negative ions in the air have been shown to cause an uplifting in mood in as little as 30 minutes. See the study here by a PhD professor at Columbia University.
Studies have been revealing the power of negative ions to fight free radicals in the body, boost energy and serotonin levels, in addition to clearing the air of dust, allergens, germs and mold. To those of you reading up on electromagnetic fields and the sheer number of them which we are exposed to today, may be interested to know that these electronic devices, cell phones, computers, TV’s are all exposing us to excess in cations, or positive ions. By spending time every day in the presence of negative ions, this can help to bring your body back in to balance with the anions neutralizing these positive cations.
There have been medical studies showing the beneficial effects which negative ions have on the human body dating back to 1900. We encourage you to go read more for yourselves, and if you feel you’re lacking in your negative ion exposure, do not live next to a waterfall or ocean and have no rain in the forecast you can go get yourself a dose of these negative ions at home in your shower. See if you feel uplifted afterwards!
Who can benefit from a FIR mat?
The answer to this is an extensive list.
If you have a heart beat, you can benefit from far-infrared therapy.
It isn’t only something which can help those with pre-existing painful conditions. Look to those suffering from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and ask them. Hay fever is typically an inflammation in the nasal glands as a result of allergens in the air we breathe, FIR has been shown to provide relief in this by a reduction in the inflammation through out the body. Check out our Benefits of FIR page for a more comprehensive list with real world studies and see if any of the points apply to you.
What are some things to look out for?
For any specific medical conditions you have you should consult your physician on whether or not you should have any concern using far-infrared therapy.
However a few things you can consider are as follows.
If you have a hip replacement or any sort of surgery that has left metal supports in your body you may wonder if these will heat up when subjected to FIR treatment. This is not the case, as FIR waves are actually reflected by metal and are only absorbed by your body tissue.
If you are a hemophiliac or anyone pre-disposed to hemorrhage you should exercise caution in the use of far-infrared therapy as it increases blood flow and circulation in the body.
Young children have higher than normal metabolic rates, and subsequently are less able to adapt to higher body core temperatures than adults. Regulate the amount of time your child 12 and under spends on an FIR mat or in an FIR sauna to 20 minutes per day unless advised otherwise by a physician. Children under the age of 6 should avoid use altogether unless advised otherwise by a physician.
This is only applicable to PEMF mats but will be mentioned here as well. Extreme caution should be used for those who have a pace maker or other electronic implant in their body when using PEMF technology as the electromagnetic field could interfere with the devices operation.
Not all mats are the same! Do your own research, see what kind of technologies you want in a mat. Pay attention to warranty and return policies, depending on the company they will likely offer varying degrees of warranty and product support. Higher price does not always guarantee a better product, spend your dollars wisely.
Where to buy a FIR mat?
There are many FIR mat vendors out there locally and online. See the individual review pages for each product on our website for where to buy each. Most are MLM products, that means multi-level marketing products which are sold peer-to-peer, and anyone can become a distributor to sell the mats for a commission. There are many such websites therefore selling the same product with different marketing strategies. (and sometimes different warranty & return policies so check these before making your purchase)
What kind of warranties and guarantees are out there?
Guarantees and warranties on FIR mats vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Your first thought might be, this is a mat… What could possibly go wrong with it!? You might be right, however in our experience though most mats are robust and resilient in design, the mat’s controller is not as reliable.
A mat’s controller can perform numerous tasks specific to which therapies are included with the mat and are necessary to its operation. Some control points may range from temperature, to duration to intensity and so forth. These controllers are not cheap to purchase for replacement so be sure to check if they will be covered in your mat’s warranty policy. An in depth look at warranties can be found on each product specific review page on our website.
How to choose out your FIR mat?
With the wide variety of far-infrared mats available, choosing the best one for your use can be a little tricky. Read on for factors you’ll likely consider and we judge to be the most important.
- Size of mat (how large is your painful area)
- Crystal preference
- Soft or regular mat
- Safety (EMF protection)
General Mat Sizes (differ across brands)
- Small (20”x20”) – ideal for a small area of your body or for sitting on through out the day
- Medium (32”x20”) – just large enough to cover half the body, good for behind your back against a wall or under your legs while sitting
- Full Sized (72”x24”)- this is the most recommended size, large enough for a person 6ft or shorter to fit their whole body on
- Large(76”x32”+) – designed to cover an entire massage table or for the taller or wider individual
- Specialty – some manufacturers offer area specific devices, such as an around the neck device or leg or arm wrap
The majority of far-infrared mat manufacturers will use one of the following crystals or a combination of them. Ceramic materials may also be used to generate FIR waves however there is less research and testimonial on products using ceramics.
- Amethyst – excellent levels of negative ion production and producing a calming energy, good for rest, relaxation, before bed, and sleep
- Tourmaline – producing the highest levels of negative ions in a higher energy, good for mornings or any time of day you need rejuvenation
- Jade – modest levels of negative ion production, a known crystal for its healing properties for many generations
- Obsidian – long known as a healing crystal obsidian is said to absorb all negative energies in its immediate surroundings into its jet black colored stone
- Ceramics – composite materials usually clay, compositions vary between manufacturers and are typically not revealed/are unknow
Soft Or Regular Mat
Soft – great for transport as they can be easily rolled up, good for localized use on the body wrapped around a certain area
Regular – designed to be flexible enough to fold up for storage, meant for use on a hard flat surface, floor or table
Stiff – The only mats which are fully stiff are the PEMF mats, this is due to rigidity in the components used for PEMF creation (read more on our PEMF pages)
Some mat manufacturers do not provide any EMF (electromagnetic force radiation) protection. This is similar to what the majority of electronics emit and increased exposure is not advisable. (especially in a health product like a FIR mat!)
Check out our individual mat reviews to make sure you get a mat with EMF protection. This info can also be found on the individual manufacturer’s websites.