What is a Sauna?
So what exactly is a sauna you might ask?! A sauna is a smaller room that is typically heated anywhere from 158-200 degrees Farenheit. The most common type of sauna is electrically heated. The majority of gyms I have visited have this because it has high temperatures with low humidity. As your skin temperature increases so does your heart rate and you will begin to sweat and have increased circulation.
I suffer from chronic pain due to having a connective tissue disorder called Elhers Danos that make my joints hypermobile which has resulted in many orthopedic surgeries. Also due to having osteopenia, I have had many fractures. I recently fractured my hip and since it wouldn’t heal on its own, I underwent surgery to place screws in my hip. I am on week 20 of my recovery. It has been a really long and painful healing process but I have included sauna every day into my rehab and has helped immensely with my pain. Dry heat is great for both your joints and muscles but did you know it has other health benefits?!
Benefits of Sauna use
- Ease pain– The increased circulation helps reduce muscle soreness so it’s great to use after a workout! It also loosens stiff joints and helps arthritic pain. I typically go in the sauna for 15 minutes before my workout and it has worked wonders! It helps to warm up my muscles and decreases the stiffness I experience in the first 20 minutes of my workouts. It is shown that it also helps with increased recovery following a tough workout so why wouldn’t you do it?!
- Reduce stress levels– Personal well being is very important. Research shows that the sauna increases relaxation and improves overall well-being.
- Improved cardiovascular health– Individuals that used the sauna 2-3 times a week showed a lesser risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Studies have show that regular use decreases a person’s blood pressure.
- Cleanses the skin and hair– This is one of my favorite benefits! You would think by sweating so much your pores would become clogged but they definitely don’t! My skin has never felt and looked better and my hair has been noticeably more shiny.
- Detoxing– Sauna use helps you flush out toxins faster and aids in recovery of illness. It has been shown that regular use can improve your immune system
How long should I go?
There are different recommendations on this. In general to receive benefit you should go into the sauna for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week. Research has also shown that going into the sauna 45-1 hour increases the benefit. I am currently going in 20 minutes before my workout to loosen up my joints and then 20 minutes after to decrease pain after my workout. My hip is still healing but this process has helped greatly in my pain. Start slow and work your time up.
It is VERY important to listen to your body. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded do NOT push through it. If you have any pre-existing conditions you should clear with your doctor first. Make sure to stay hydrated! This is very very important! You do not want to risk dehydration. You should drink 2-4 glasses of water after sauna use.
**I am by no means an expert on this topic but rather I am sharing what I find beneficial about sauna use. Check with health care professionals before use of a sauna.**