SAUNA FOR WORKOUT RECOVERY

sauna after workout

Sauna is an excellent tool for workout recovery. It relieves soreness, stiffness, and speeds up muscle recovery.  Sauna heat boosts tissue healing and growth. A quick sauna session after your workout will boost your gym routine.

Sauna After Workout

Taking a sauna after a workout is a great way to finish a gym routine.  It relaxes the mind and body, speeds up muscle recovery, and leaves us feeling great.  No wonder so many people include it as part of their workout.

Sauna is an excellent way to speed up muscle recovery after exercise.  It also relieves the tension and stiffness of tired muscles and promotes healing throughout the body.

Taking a sauna after a workout comes with a whole range of physical health benefits.   Just make sure you plan it properly and follow some basic rules, see below.

Is Sauna Good For Recovery?

It’s a question we hear every day – is sauna good after workout?  Yes, absolutely!  Taking a sauna after a workout is an excellent way to speed-up and enhance your recovery.

Done correctly, a sauna session after a gym workout will boost your muscle recovery, relieve muscle tension, and prolong the health benefits of sweating.

Ending a workout with a well-planned sauna session will help you get the most out of your visit to the gym, speed up muscle recovery and relax your body before you get on with the rest of your day.

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woman resting inside a sauna

Benefits of Sauna After Workout

The benefits of sauna after workout are better muscle recovery, reduced muscle tension and stiffness, prolonged sweating, cardiovascular stimulation, and better muscle growth.

MUSCLE RECOVERY

Your muscles work hard during a gym session.  They are pushed beyond the limits of regular daily activity.  This results in muscle stress, fatigue, and muscle damage in the form of microscopic tears.

Your body needs time to recover after a workout.  This involves healing the muscles and making them stronger and this process can be speeded up using a sauna.

The heat therapy of a sauna session enhances the muscle recovery process.  Your body benefits from an increased supply of oxygen-rich blood which helps heal the muscles quickly.

Another benefit of sauna for workout recovery is increased production of human growth hormones and heat shock proteins.

Studies have shown that the body produces higher levels of these vital building blocks while in the sauna.  Growth hormones stimulate muscle growth and recovery, while heat shock proteins protect muscle tissue and facilitate cellular recovery.

MUSCLE GROWTH

Levels of human growth hormone and heat shock proteins shoot up during a sauna session.  These are the building blocks for growing new muscle tissue.

By ending a workout with a sauna session you can help boost the levels of human growth hormone and heat shock proteins in your blood.  This will help stimulate muscle growth.

For more information on the Health Benefits of Sauna – click here.

CARDIOVASCULAR STIMULATION

Sauna stimulates cardiovascular activity.  This means your heart will begin working harder and channel increased levels of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

Once your body is on the receiving end of an increased supply of oxygen-rich blood, the healing and recovery phases are speeded right up.  Muscle tissue can repair damage and grow new cells more easily.

RELIEVE MUSCLE TENSION & STIFFNESS

Post workout, muscles are tired and can feel stiff and sore.  Heat therapy from a sauna, especially infrared sauna, is an excellent way of relieving this muscle tension.

Ending a workout with a sauna session is an excellent way of relaxing the muscles and bringing them back to their natural state.  Even a short sauna session post workout will leave you feeling much better.

PROLONGE SWEATING

The health benefits associated with sweating are well established.  Sweating is the mechanism your body uses to cool itself during exercise.

However, sweating also detoxes the body, flushes out toxins, and protects the skin.  For more on the health benefits of Sauna Detox & Sweating – click here.

lady entering sauna for post workout sauna recovery

Sauna Helps Muscle Recovery

If you want to speed up your muscle recovery after a workout – you should head straight for the sauna.  The heat therapy of a sauna is ideal for repairing muscle damage and inflammation caused by a gym session.

During exercise muscle tissue can suffer micro-tears, inflammation, and fatigue – especially during an intense workout.  The body needs time to repair this tissue and grow new muscle cells once the workout is complete.

This process of repairing and building new cells is a natural part of tissue regeneration – and it can be speeded up using the heat therapy of a sauna.

As mentioned above, several recovery mechanisms are stimulated by a sauna.  These include – increased heart rate and blood oxygen levels, increased heat shock protein activity, and improved growth hormone production.

As the heat of the sauna stimulates cardiovascular activity, a greater volume of oxygen-rich blood circulates throughout the body. This promotes the natural healing and regeneration process.

Also, studies have shown we produce increased levels of heat shock proteins in the high temperature environment of a sauna.  Heat shock proteins help protect and heal muscle tissue and repair cellular damage.

It is also believed a sauna session boosts human growth hormone production.  Growth hormone is responsible for stimulating new muscle growth.  A great way to round off a gym workout.

Finally, the comforting heat of a sauna allows the muscles to relax.  This will help relieve the stiffness and soreness we often feel after a weights session.  The heat relaxes the muscles and relieves tension. 

staying safe in a sauna

How to Use a Sauna For Recovery After Workout

The best way to use a sauna for recovery after a workout is to keep the session short and stay properly hydrated.  So, how long should you sauna after a workout? 

The best approach is to aim for a session that is a little shorter than you are used to.

You have just finished a workout, so the body is already under stress.  While you want to benefit from all the good points of taking a sauna post-workout, you don’t want to stay in so long that you place the body under too much stress.

If you are used to taking saunas you should aim for 15-20 minutes.  A general rule would be to shave about 5 minutes off the length of your regular sauna session.

Those who are not used to saunas need to be careful not to overdo it.  Start with a very short sauna session.  Five minutes is a good starting point.  And as you become more comfortable in the sauna you can gradually work this up to the 15-minute mark.

Hydration is key!  Make sure you are properly hydrated before entering the sauna.  As you have just finished a workout you will already be sweating – so take a break and drink some water before entering the sauna.

For more information on Staying Hydrated in the sauna – see here.

sauna after workout for best effects

Is Sauna Better Before or After Workout?

Sauna is definitely better after workout.  Do not sauna before a workout.  Sauna is an excellent tool post-workout for recovery but should be avoided before a workout.

The best way to warm up before a workout is to do a regular warm-up routine.  Do not use a sauna.  Save the sauna for when your workout is complete and maximize the recovery benefits it offers.

Using a sauna before your workout is not a good idea and can lead to several problems – muscle injury, fatigue, dehydration, and over-heating.

MUSCLE INJURY

A sauna will heat and relax your muscles.  This is not a good idea immediately before beginning a workout.  Relaxed muscles are more likely to suffer an injury during an exercise routine.

The best way to warm up is to perform some standard warm-up exercises – and avoid the sauna until you have completed the workout.  A good warm-up exercise routine is the best way to avoid pulled muscles and muscle injuries.

FATIGUE

Taking a sauna before you begin a gym session can really drain your energy levels.  This is something you want to avoid if you are to get the most out of your routine.

The heat therapy of a sauna will relax the mind and body – which can have a detrimental impact on the intensity of your workout.  To avoid a drop in energy levels, do not take a sauna before you begin your workout.

DEHYDRATION

If you take a sauna before you begin your workout you run the risk of dehydration.  Sauna will trigger sweating and water loss.  It can take up to 3 pints of water to maintain adequate hydration levels for a standard sauna session.

You do not want to run the risk of dehydrating the body before you begin your exercise routine.  Your workout will place a further strain on the body, increased sweating, and even more water loss.  Save the sauna session for post workout.

OVER-HEATING

Your body temperature will increase when you perform physical activity.  Therefore it is best to begin a workout with a normal body temperature.

If you take a sauna before you begin your workout, you will elevate your core body temperature before beginning your exercises.  This is not a good idea and could result in overheating – making it difficult to complete your session as you had planned.

inside an infrared sauna

What’s Better Infrared Sauna, Traditional Sauna, or Steam Room?

The best type of sauna after workout for recovery is an infrared sauna.  Infrared sauna heats the muscles directly without heating the air inside the sauna.

They use infrared light energy that penetrates the skin and is absorbed directly into the muscles.  This means you can enjoy all the recovery effects of heat therapy without the oppressive heat.

Traditional saunas have to run at much higher temperatures to achieve the same effects.  A recovery session in an infrared sauna runs at a temperature of 120°F. The same session in a traditional sauna will be 190°F to achieve the same effect.

The higher temperatures will place increased strain on the body.  This is not ideal having completed a workout and will result in a shorter sauna session.  To maximize your workout recovery – go for an infrared sauna.

Steam rooms are another popular option for muscle relaxation and recovery.  However, they just do not achieve the same results as an infrared sauna.  Like traditional saunas, steam rooms heat the air around the body and not the muscles directly.

Also, steam rooms operate at near 100 percent humidity.  This can create an uncomfortable environment for many and make breathing difficult.  This is something best avoided after completing a workout.  Opt for an infrared sauna after workout for the best results.

infrared sauna is good for your health

Is Sauna Good for Pulled Muscles and Injuries?

Sauna heat therapy is a great tool for encouraging the natural healing process.  It is believed that sauna can help relieve and repair pulled muscles and muscle injuries.  The heat therapy of a sauna can reduce muscle pain, tension, and joint stiffness. 

As discussed above, sauna can help repair muscle damage by increasing cardiovascular activity.  This results in a greater amount of oxygen-rich blood being pumped to the muscles, allowing them to heal more quickly.

It is also believed that sauna therapy increases the levels of heat shock proteins and growth hormones in the blood.  Heat shock proteins help protect and heal muscle damage, while growth hormones stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue.

How Many Calories Do You Burn In A Sauna After Workout?

You will not burn calories in a sauna after a workout.  Saunas should not be used to try and burn off calories.  It just won’t work!  If burning calories is your goal – you should be achieving this during your workout.

You cannot burn calories sitting in a sauna.  And it is not advised you perform exercises while inside a sauna.  Anyone who claims saunas can be used to burn calories or lose weight has no evidence to back up these claims.

You will lose some water weight in a sauna due to the high levels of sweating that occur.  But you must replace this water to avoid becoming dehydrated.  Therefore any loss in weight is temporary and is a result of water loss due to sweating.

 

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