Infrared Mat Benefits – Benefits I Felt & What Research Studies Show

For most people the immediately noticeable benefits of an infrared mat are pain and stiffness relief, improved circulation, cramping relief, relaxation and reduced stress.

For me the real benefit of my infrared mat is a place I can always go to feel good when my back is hurting.

On this page I’ll talk about what benefits you can expect from an infrared mat based on my experience, 7 benefits most people notice right away, what 23 research studies say about the benefits of infrared therapy like you get by using an infrared mat, plus why use amethyst crystals, safety, where to get an infrared mat and more of your questions answered.

Quick links,

The following is my infrared mat that I have at home in my living room, I’ll go over its details in the section further down the page which I’ve quick linked above to make easy to find.

My infrared mat, the Healthy Wave Pro 4 Therapy Infrared PEMF Mat
My infrared mat, the Healthy Wave Pro 4 Therapy Infrared PEMF Mat

I’ll also begin by disclaiming here that nothing on this page is a substitute for advice from a health care professional, you should always seek the advice of your own physician for any ailment or health concern you have. 

Never disregard professional medical advice based on something you read here.

Ok let’s get into it!

What is an Infrared Mat and Infrared Therapy?

An infrared mat is an infrared therapy device in the shape of a yoga mat but typically made from amethyst crystals which generate its’ infrared heat therapy.

Infrared heat therapy differs from normal heat therapy in that instead of just getting hot to touch, infrared heat is actually a wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum, it’s the same type of warmth which we feel from the sun. 

What makes infrared heat special, is that the infrared wavelengths are actually able to travel an inch or two past the surface of the skin and give you a deep warming heat which you can really feel increasing circulation and helping sore spots on your body.

Benefits to Expect and My Experience Using My Infrared Mat

The infrared mat benefits most people can expect to get immediately are:

  • Back pain reduction
  • Stress reduction
  • Relaxation
  • Better sleep
  • Cramping relief
  • Pain and stiffness reduction
  • Improved circulation

That list is based on my experience using an infrared mat and of my friends, really just the first things we all noticed.

It kind of looks like a list of benefits you would get from taking a hot bath, and the comparison wouldn’t be far off. 

For me, my infrared mat is a place I can go to feel good when my back is hurting.

A couple of years ago I had a severe disc herniation (back and sciatica pain), and the pain from that lasted months, almost an entire year, and it didn’t matter if I was standing, sitting or walking, I was in pain.

Using my infrared mat in my living room, water proof sweat cover over top like I usually have it, shorts and t-shirt because it does get warm!

Having my infrared mat was just irreplaceable in those months as somewhere I could finally feel good in the evenings.

The infrared heat seemed to dissipate the pain, and warmth would just make me feel good and relaxed all over.

Laying on my infrared mat became my nightly routine because it would help me:

  • Alleviate my back pain before bed
  • Reduce stress and relax
  • Get a better sleep by putting my body into a warm rest mode
  • And not to be understated, was just a place to feel good

I would actually spend a lot of time on my mat in the evenings, sometimes even an hour or two, relaxing, watching TV, reading a book or catching up on messages on my phone. 

Sometimes I would have to reduce the mat’s temperature when spending a longer time on it because eventually you start to sweat and I wouldn’t always want that right before bed.

The temperature set points I usually use on my mat, my normal setpoint, cool down set point, and the max temp just there for your reference

Even now, thankfully my back pain is a lot better but sometimes I do have a flare up, and funny enough, maybe good timing for writing this article, it was flaring up just last week.

It almost surprised me how much the infrared mat’s heat actually helped reduce my lower back pain and stiffness I was getting.

I would use it once every couple hours or so for a little while to just keep myself from stiffening up too much, and of course before bed to make sure I would get a good rest.

I’ll try my best next to describe how it feels to use an infrared mat, or at least how it feels for me.

How it Feels to Use an Infrared Mat

Probably the best way to describe how it feels to use an infrared mat is that it’s similar to that feeling when you finally slip into a hot bath.

It’s that feeling of warmth and heat relief that you get as you ease onto the mat and it starts to warm your bones from the inside out.

Depending on the temperature you set the mat to, it can be more of an intense heat, like when you draw an extra hot bath, or more mild on a lower temperature, easy to set on the mat’s controller.

As it warms you up you’ll feel your blood moving more and more and the warmth reaching the farthest places in your body, your fingers and toes and every nook and cranny will be getting beneficial blood flow in a way it normally wouldn’t.

Infrared Mat Well-Being Benefits

We can classify benefits from an infrared mat into more general well being benefits and benefits for specific conditions.

First let’s look at what research says about the benefits for general well being, we’ll look at studies for the following:

  • Circulation and cardiovascular health
  • Muscle and pain treatment
  • Detoxifying the body
  • Reducing chronic fatigue

It’s important to disclaim however that the research studies we are reviewing are investigating benefits from infrared heat therapy, typically infrared sauna use, and not specifically infrared mat usage.

Improves Circulation and Cardiovascular Health

There are a number of studies which look at far-infrared therapy for improving circulation and cardiovascular issues. 

Typically one of the advantages of using infrared therapy for this is due to its non-invasive nature of application, simply applying the heat externally will provide the results.

The following are 4 research studies which found benefits from infrared heat for circulation and vascular purposes in various specific applications from vascular damage to foot circulation issues for diabetic patients:

One additional advantage to being a non-invasive treatment method which these studies note is that the infrared therapy didn’t appear to have any detrimental side effects while improving circulatory symptoms.

Muscle and Pain Treatment

We will look at some studies of infrared therapy for arthritic pain conditions in the next section, but there are findings that infrared therapy is helpful for muscle recovery and pain in general.

Most people who have, or do use a sauna after a workout will know that it helps with their muscle recovery.

Similar to using a hot bath to relieve muscle pains, typically you will be feeling better the next day.

The following are a couple of studies which examine how infrared therapy accelerated muscle recovery and treated general myofascial pain.

To quote the first study, 

  • “results suggested that the FIR lamp therapy was effective for accelerating recovery from muscle damage”

The second study found that the muscle below the skin was unaffected by infrared patches despite the improved skin sensitivity and suggested further studies to investigate higher energy or longer exposure to infrared to affect the muscle below as well.

Detoxifying the Body

There isn’t a lot that feels better than a good sweat session, and one probable reason for this is the amount of detoxifying that your body does through sweat.

Getting a good sweat in a sauna, or on an infrared mat can provide the same benefit.

Sweating helps the body to eliminate heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, which are accumulated over many years into the body, and can’t be eliminated overnight but gradually can be.

The following study shows how heavy metals are eliminated from the body through sweat, specifically looking at sweating in sauna usage.

And to capture a couple of different quotes from the article,

  • “Mercury levels normalized with repeated saunas in a case report. Sweating deserves consideration for toxic element detoxification”
  • “suggests that physicians could consider recommending sweating as tolerated via exercise (preferred) and/or use of a sauna as a low-risk, potentially beneficial treatment for individuals who may be experiencing effects of toxic elements”

The study does clarify that sweating due to endurance exercise is preferable to intense exercise, and sweating due to exercise is preferable to sweating via sauna usage but that all forms are beneficial to toxin elimination.

Reduces Chronic Fatigue

There is some promising research also showing that thermal therapy whether infrared or otherwise can help with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Thermal therapy was shown to reduce fatigue, pain, and sleep disturbances in the patients and symptoms were, to quote the study,

  • “dramatically improved after 15 to 25 sessions of thermal therapy.”

Improving sleep can have major improvements for anyone and speaking from my experience using my infrared mat before bed I know it can really help with this.

Infrared Mat Benefits for Specific Conditions

Now let’s have a look at the benefits that research on infrared therapy found for more specific conditions.

It’s important to disclaim again, that most of these research studies are looking at infrared therapy benefits (perhaps sauna usage) and not specifically at benefits from infrared mat usage.

Also it’s important to consider, as with any kind of treatment, results will likely also depend upon the frequency and intensity of usage.

Having said that, there are some studies which look specifically at infrared pads such as for low back pain, and some others looking at infrared heat patches or infrared lamps which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to correlate to infrared mats.

Here we’ll take a look at some research studies on:

  • Relieving symptoms of back pain
  • Reducing arthritic pain and stiffness
  • Improving motor functions
  • Blood pressure normalizing
  • Protecting the Skin
  • Treating Allergies
  • Reducing symptoms in menstrual cramping

Let’s take a look.

Relieves Symptoms of Back Pain

This is one that hits home for me, having gone through nearly a year of severe back pain, and ongoing flare ups over time (still working with my physio!).

The first research study in the bullet points below shows a significant improvement in back pain for the test group which used an infrared pad regularly.

The next study also found a significant improvement using infrared therapy.

These results don’t surprise me having experienced this first hand over the years of owning my infrared mat.

I will point out though that an infrared mat is not a “cure” for back pain, it didn’t somehow cure my disc herniation, but it did do an amazing job in helping me through bad days and just helping me feel good again, at least for a while.

The next study, by its title, doesn’t look like it has anything to do with infrared, however it in fact does.

The study looks at using a plaster which reflects the body’s own infrared heat back to the skin’s surface. 

It’s true, the human body actually gives off a little bit of infrared heat itself.

Unsurprisingly the study found a significantly reduced pain level in the group which used the plaster “trap” the infrared heat back onto the low back so to speak.

When I initially called my doctor to ask for help when my back pain was to the point of being unmanageable, all he could do for me (his words) was to prescribe me basically whatever kind of pain killer I wanted.

That was a path I really did not want to go down, and I’m especially happy now that I didn’t, knowing how long it would have been, almost an entire year.

I’m very glad I had my infrared mat during those long months to give me at least some kind of non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option that I could use as much as I needed to get relief when I needed it.

You should however always seek the advice of your own physician regarding any ailment or concern of your own, everyone’s situation is different and you should never disregard professional medical advice based on something you read here. 

There are more malicious causes for back pain than my own was.

Reduction of Arthritic Pain and Stiffness

The first study here seems rather promising in the therapeutic treatment of osteoarthritis.

To quote the study, 

  • “Far infrared emitting plaster could be considered an effective non-pharmacological choice for the therapeutic management of knee OA”. 

The next two studies look at arthritis in rat models, but seem to show that applying infrared therapy reduces the inflammatory response in the affected areas and thereby causes better cartilage regrowth compared to the control group.

My non-scientific take would be that improving circulation, and microcirculation to any areas likely does a better job of carrying nutrients to the areas that need them most and reduce general stiffness in any joint.

Improvement in Motor Functions

Infrared therapy has been found to benefit motor dysfunction and nerve damage, or at least to optimize the function that is still available.

The following 3 studies look at neuromuscular, motor dysfunction, and nerve repair.

To quote the studies linked above in the same order , 

  • “far infrared improved the neuromuscular performance of knee extensors”, 
  • “far infrared confers therapeutic effects in an SCA4 transgenic animal model”, 
  • “Functional recovery, inflammatory response, muscular reinnervation, and histomorphometric assessment all indicated that FIR (far infrared) radiation therapy can accelerate nerve repair”

It appears like with most applications, including my back pain treatment, infrared doesn’t cure anything, but it does offer a beneficial therapeutic alternative in many instances.

Perhaps this benefit in some cases could be as simple as improving blood flow and microcirculation to affected areas allowing the body to more effectively take care of itself.

Normalizes Blood Pressure Levels

This one is more an infrared sauna thing than an infrared mat thing.

The following study reviews the use of far infrared saunas when it comes to health benefits.

To quote the study, 

  • “there is limited moderate evidence supporting far infrared sauna efficacy in normalizing blood pressure…”

These results are likely also after frequent and extended use over time periods, if you’ve ever used a sauna you know your heart does start to work, it is like a cardio work out in some ways.

There is a way to simulate a sauna on your infrared mat using a reflective sauna sheet cover over yourself while on the mat which reflects the infrared heat back in.

This would be a sweat intensive session to try and simulate real infrared sauna usage.

My infrared mat, (and all Healthy Wave mats) come with a reflective sauna sheet and a waterproof mat cover right out the box so this is an option.

That said, aside from an actual full size infrared sauna, sauna blankets may be a more comparable alternative to real infrared sauna usage.

Protects the Skin

This one is interesting, and not one I really would have thought of, but according to the following studies, exposure to infrared on the skin, prior to sun exposure, can actually reduce risk of sunburn and skin collagen breakdown.

The first study was examining if existing sunblock cream should try and block out infrared from the sun as well as UV.

What it found was that some wavelengths from the sun are actually beneficial, namely the infrared wavelengths.

From the first study, 

  • “it has been shown that at realistic irradiances/doses, IR-A radiation has beneficial effects on collagen metabolism and upcoming UVR damage”.

As an additional sun tip the study recommends early morning and evening sun exposure as the time to get the most infrared from the sun while avoiding the harmful UV.

From the next two studies respectively,

  • “Sunburn cell (SC) formation, a quantifiable measure of epidermal cell injury induced in mouse ear skin by ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation (290-320 nm), was significantly decreased by pre-exposure to infrared radiation (IR)”
  • “our study provides evidence for the beneficial effects of FIR exposure in a model of skin photoaging”

The second one is a little more interesting as it explains how UV light induces skin photoaging, in other words, thickening, wrinkling, pigmentation, all around aging of the skin, and that pre-exposure to infrared inhibits UV photoaging.

Basically the same results found in the other studies only specifically linking it to the aging of the skin.

Treats Allergies

This study looked specifically at using infrared therapy on the nasal region which you can’t do with an infrared mat without some difficulty.

Perhaps however, some of the beneficial results against allergies were from the improved blood flow, which you can easily experience in your whole body while using an infrared mat.

To quote the study, 

  • “During the period of FIR therapy, the symptoms of eye itching, nasal itching, nasal stuffiness, rhinorrhea and sneezing were all significantly improved.”

Certainly not a cure, though there are some days in the spring where I wish I had another anti-allergy tool in my kit in addition to your standard allergy pills. 

This isn’t an application I’ve tried before with my infrared mat but perhaps it will be this coming spring, hopefully won’t need to though!

Reduces Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps

This study looked at the benefits of far infrared for primary dysmenorrhea (“severe and frequent menstrual cramps and pain during your period” as defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine.)

While not having experience with this myself, the study did give some promising results.

To quote the study,

  • “the average dysmenorrhea pain duration of the FIR (far infrared) group was significantly reduced from 2.5 to 1.8 days, but there was no significant difference in the control group”

The study goes on to say that the application of local heat can help reduce muscle tension and relax abdominal muscles reducing muscle spasm pain.

The heat applied can also help reduce congestion and swelling which can thereby reduce pain caused by nerve compression.

It seems far infrared appears to be effective in this application, like with reducing back pain, because of its ability to heat a couple inches past the surface of the skin.

Why Amethyst Crystals are in Most Infrared Mats

Amethyst crystals are used in most infrared heating mats because when they are heated they emit infrared heat within the same wavelength range as the human body does.

This makes them an excellent choice to generate the infrared heat because you could say it’s the most natural, or at least the most aligned with our body’s own heat.

Other crystals are also frequently used in infrared mats and sometimes a crystal mixture is used to complement benefits, such as including tourmaline because of its ability to emit more negative ions than amethyst can.

The other crystal commonly used in infrared mats is jade, which some people have a preference for, and which also generates infrared heat and negative ions when heated.

I wrote a page comparing the best amethyst mats which you can check out, especially if you’re interested specifically in amethyst infrared mats.

Using Your Infrared Mat: Daily Life & Activities on the Mat

So you’ve got an infrared mat laying on the floor in your living room now, when do you actually spend time to use it?

For me it turned out pretty frequently, but that probably had a lot to do with the constant back pain it was helping me with.

More normal usage may look something like the following list which I made up based on how I use my mat now:

  • Relaxing
  • TV
  • Reading
  • Post Workout
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Meditation
  • Before Sleep

I stretch on my mat but I won’t pretend like I’m doing as much yoga as I should.

Depending what I’m up to often I’ll even go quite a while without using my infrared mat, but like I mentioned above with my recent back pain flare up it was pretty awesome to just be able to pull it out from under my couch where I keep it, turn it on, and get some relief.

Safe Usage Guidelines

For safe usage guidelines for infrared mats, we have two subtopics, those who should not use an infrared mat, and for those who do, EMF blocking and timers on the mat controllers.

I will disclaim here again that I am not a medical professional, and for all health related issues, no matter the topic, you should consult your own physician.

I’ve just put together the following information based on what infrared mat manufacturers have said regarding their products, so that you can find it all here in one spot rather than searching around endlessly.

Who Should Not Use an Infrared Mat

First off, according to most infrared mat user guides you should consult your doctor before infrared mat use if you have any of the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions with cause for concern
  • Heart disease or hypertension
  • Any other serious medical condition

They also typically state that you should avoid heat therapy if you have:

  • Vascular disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • An open wound or cut (heat therapy can increase bleeding)

If you have any medical condition of concern at all and are interested in using an infrared mat I can only recommend that you ask your physician first if it could be beneficial for you or something to avoid.

Everyone’s case can be different!

The last list of people who should not use an infrared mat as cautioned by infrared mat user guides are:

  • Pregnant women
  • Those who are nursing
  • And individuals who have a pacemaker

Being exposed to the increased heat from the mat is advised against for these groups of people, but if you fall into one of these categories ask your doctor what is best for you.

EMF Blocking and Controller Timers

When it comes to using an infrared mat there are a couple things to be aware of, EMF’s and timers on the controllers.

First off most infrared mats include EMF shielding and timers on the controllers so it isn’t of high concern, but check the infrared mat safety section on our infrared mats page where we review individual mats on their EMF shielding and controller functionality.

EMF’s or electromagnetic fields are found everywhere, even the Earth itself has one, but of concern are the EMFs that all electronics give off.

The EMF’s from modern day electronics are at much higher, unnatural frequencies, and in a therapeutic product like an infrared mat we want to be sure we’re not getting a dose of high frequency EMF’s.

The controller timer safety feature is a pretty standard thing, we don’t want to accidentally leave our mat on at maximum temperature and have it hot for days if we forget it there.

A timer makes sure we’re covered, even in the case if you snooze off while on the mat.

Where to Get an Infrared Mat and Comparisons

There are a number of different infrared mat brands out there nowadays and most sell on their own websites, and there are also a few knock off brands on Amazon.

To clarify, not every brand on Amazon is a knock off, but there are a few with much lower pricing and Amazon is where you would find them.

The knock off brands can’t typically be trusted to do proper EMF shielding or to use real amethyst crystal, there are some corners which can and are cut and which personally I want to avoid.

When I was shopping for a infrared mat, ages ago now, I came up with my own criteria to figure out which one I wanted and based it on the following points:

  • Mat safety
  • Crystal coverage
  • Negative Ions
  • Return Policies (this one was big for me in case I didn’t like the product)
  • Warranty Policies

I used those 5 criteria points and pricing to compare the top 5 infrared mats on our best infrared mats page.

I worked hard on that page so please check it out if you’re trying to compare a few mat options for yourself.

My Infrared Mat

My infrared mat that I use at home is the Healthy Wave Pro 4 Therapy Infrared PEMF Mat.

Here’s a picture of it I just took in my living room, and don’t mind the rug behind it I just got at Ikea last week.

My infrared PEMF mat I use at home, see also on the right my flexible infrared pad

I chose this infrared mat because,

  • PEMF Therapy is included
    • 1-30 Hz adjustable frequency settings
    • PEMF uses the Sine Wave Signal (the most tested PEMF signal in research)
  • Mat Sizing
    • large enough for me (I’m a little taller than average)
  • Infrared Heat Coverage
    • the crystal coverage is excellent
  • Negative Ion output
    • 3000/cc + negative ions per minute which is above average
  • 3 Different Crystals are included:
    • amethyst, tourmaline and obsidian
  • Best Return Policy
    • 3 month full money back guarantee, just in case I didn’t like it
  • 5 Year Extended Warranty on the Mat Controller
    • Mat controllers are the most common component to fail, because that’s where the most complicated electronic components in any mat are found
  • Mat Safety
    • All of Healthy Wave mats are EMF free, (tested with an EMF meter)
    • All Healthy Wave mat controllers allow 1 to 12 hour adjustable timers

You can see it on the Healthy Wave website here:

The other version of the mat that I have which includes red light therapy lights is the one that I’ve reviewed and typically recommend, you can see the review here, Healthy Wave Mat Review.

I chose not to get that one myself because I almost always use my mat with the waterproof cover on it in case I sweat, so the lights are mostly blocked anyway.

You may also notice on the right side of the photo my infrared pad.

This infrared pad is a favorite of mine because it’s very flexible so I can wrap my leg or arm, or put it behind my back at my desk chair, or use it anywhere on the couch.

My infrared pad, really one of my favorites because its easy to wrap any leg or arm, and use any where, chair, couch, you name it

You can see it here if you’re interested:

The other thing both my infrared mat and infrared pad include is PEMF therapy, which you may not have heard of before.

If you’re looking at buying an infrared mat, should you consider getting one which includes PEMF?

Let’s look at that next.

What is PEMF Therapy and Should You Get an Infrared Mat that includes PEMF?

PEMF therapy, or pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy, is the application of a gentle pulsing electro-magnetic field across the body which can assist in aligning voltage gradients of the cells.

I did a macro-analysis of 335 PEMF research studies, and then wrote a very in depth page on the topic of PEMF which you can see here, PEMF therapy.

Many infrared mats include PEMF therapy so should you consider a regular infrared mat, or an infrared PEMF mat?

For most people I would say yes, you should consider an infrared mat which includes PEMF therapy, and I say this for a couple of reasons,

  • PEMF therapy can be beneficial for many of the same applications as an infrared mat can be so combining both may be a way to improve results (for example, improved circulation, better sleep, joint and low back pain relief, etc.)
  • You can find deals on an infrared PEMF mat which may even be less than an infrared only mat depending on the brand

That being said there are a couple other points to consider before you make your decision.

  • PEMF mats are generally less flexible than regular infrared mats and need a lie flat surface (I have mine on the living room floor)
  • If you may be considering PEMF therapy in the future, you may save space at home and money by going with a single mat rather than getting a second in the future

Personally while I’m using my infrared mat I like to have the PEMF turned on.

If I’m using it in the morning I’ll set the PEMF to 16 Hz to feel refreshed and wake up, in the afternoons I’ll use 8 Hz to feel calm and awake, and in the evenings I’ll set it down to 4 Hz to really relax and start to feel sleepy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of an infrared mat?

The benefits of an infrared mat that most people will notice immediately are pain and stiffness relief, improved circulation, cramping relief, relaxation and reduced stress.

Is an infrared mat better than a PEMF mat?

An infrared mat is likely better than a PEMF mat for improving circulation and for temporary pain relief, however there are infrared mats which also include PEMF therapy so you don’t need to choose one or the other.

Who shouldn’t use an infrared mat?

You should always consult your doctor if you have any doubt about using an infrared mat, and people should not use an infrared mat if they have: Heart disease or hypertension, Deep vein thrombosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Vascular disease, an open wound or cut, any other serious medical condition or pre-existing condition with cause for concern, pregnant women, those who are nursing and individuals who have a pacemaker.

What’s the difference between an infrared mat and a sauna blanket?

The difference between an infrared mat and a sauna blanket is a sauna blanket is designed to replicate real sauna usage and has infrared heat on both top and bottom, while an infrared mat only has infrared heat on the bottom and isn’t designed for a sweating sauna experience.

Will an infrared mat help my back pain?

An infrared mat will help with back pain in many cases, it helped and continues to help me manage my back pain, but it isn’t a cure and you should always ask your doctor as there are many reasons one can experience back pain.

If you made it this far down the page then thank you for reading all the way through!

It took a lot of time and organizing of my thoughts to put this page together so I really hope it helped you, if it did, please share it with friends or family you think might be interested.

Next to read is the review of our top rated infrared mat the Healthy Wave Pro Mat!

Have a Question?

Ask me in this comment section and I'll do my best to answer!

2 thoughts on “Infrared Mat Benefits – Benefits I Felt & What Research Studies Show”

  1. This article has been very well thought out and presented very well. It is like having Greg right in the room to answer all my questions on a level I can relate to. His research and personal experience make him the “go-to-guy” for all things mat related. I am happy I came across his website and feel I made a great decision when I did purchase a PEMF infrared mat.


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