Saunas have been used for centuries as a way to get clean, relax and increase blood flow.
There are two main types of sauna, the Finnish sauna with dry heat and the Turkish sauna with lots of steam.
Either type of sauna brings similar benefits to your body.
A sauna after workout can increase the benefits of your exercise by continuing to lightly stress the body, increase your heart rate and encourage extra blood flow.
During a sauna session, your blood vessels expand, which can help ease pain and give you added flexibility.
You may find that your joints move a little easier and you can bend a bit further in the heat of the sauna room.
The expanded blood vessels also reduce inflammation, which can ease some of your post-workout pain.
An important benefit of sauna use is relaxation in general.
The sauna atmosphere encourages you to breathe deeply, a practice that relaxes your body and calms your mind.
After the intensity of a heavy workout, a sauna can be an excellent space for the transition from exercise to daily life.
Post-workout Sauna Session Tips
While a sauna can be a helpful practice after a workout, it is important that you take proper precautions to stay hydrated.
The warm sauna room will cause you to sweat significantly.
If you have just been sweating during your workout, it can be all too easy to become dehydrated.
Make sure that you have access to water before, after and during your sauna session.
If you have never taken a sauna after a workout, you might want to limit your time to five minutes to see how your body reacts.
You may also want to make sure you have a partner in the sauna with you.
In order to maintain the proper atmosphere, saunas have thick walls that could make it difficult for someone to hear you if you need help.
Keep aware of the common signs of dehydration while you are in the sauna.
If you find that your drinking cannot keep up with your thirst, it is time to leave the room.
If find yourself feeling dizzy, lightheaded or have a headache, get out of the room and take a cool shower to lower your body temperature.
Heart Health Benefits
Heart health is an important benefit of your sauna session.
When you sit in the heat, your blood vessels expand, which lowers your blood pressure and encourages blood flow throughout your body.
The heat will increase your heart rate while making each beat more productive.
Increased blood flow means that more blood will flow through the kidneys, encouraging the removal of toxins.
Although most of the weight loss from a sauna session is water weight, the increased heart rate continues the cardiovascular benefits of your workout session.
A short sauna after workout can really get your blood pumping.
A workout is a form of intentional stress. You push the limits of your body, and your body responds by releasing energy from stored fat.
After your workout, your body needs to calm down and recover.
As you sit in the sauna, you can close your eyes and breath deeply.
Not only will you recover from your workout, but you will also deal with the daily stress of your life.
Every day, you are hit with demands, deadlines and expectations.
For a few minutes in the sauna, you can lay those concerns aside and just breathe.
Since you have just come from a workout, make sure that you do not get too relaxed to avoid dehydration.
Many people use a heat pack to relax individual muscles after a workout.
A sauna session is like putting a heat pack over your entire body.
The heat naturally relaxes the fibers your tight muscles.
Because of this, the sauna is an excellent place to use a roller or other massaging device to keep your muscles loose after your workout.
You can prevent some of the soreness that you experience the next day.
For athletes with several sources of aches and pain, the sauna can help deal with them in a single session, especially if they move from a sauna to a cold shower or bath.
Relaxed muscles are flexible muscles.
The warm atmosphere of the sauna also loosens your tendons and ligaments.
During a workout, your muscles warm up making them more flexible.
However, when you stop the workout, they naturally tighten as they return to their normal temperature.
A sauna keeps your muscles warm and relaxed.
If there is enough space, the sauna room can be a good place for doing some light stretches, especially for your legs, shoulders and back.
Stretching in the warm sauna will give you a little more flexibility in your daily life, preventing injuries and loss of ability.
The respiratory benefits of a sauna are well-known. In addition to expanding your blood vessels, the warm air of the sauna also expands your bronchial passages.
After a heavy workout, your body needs more oxygen to recover.
The sauna encourages you to breathe deeply, which increases the amount of oxygen that your body takes in.
People with asthma or other respiratory issues may find that a steamy Turkish sauna is more helpful than a dry sauna.
The steam soothes irritated passages and opens them even further, making it easier to clear them.
Traditionally, sauna participants go from the hot room into cold water.
This can be a cool shower or, in the Finnish winter, a jump into a frozen lake.
The combination of hot and cold is a helpful way to relieve pain and inflammation.
The pain from injuries is more intense when your muscles are tight.
The warm atmosphere of the sauna can ease some of that pain as blood vessels expand and muscle fibers relax.
Some people find that sharp pains become manageable, low-grade throbs.
Then you can step out of the sauna and step into a cool bath that reduces inflammation around the injury.
It is not unusual to repeat this cycle two or three times after a workout.