You just finished your workout. Time to drink your protein shake, and hit the shower. But wait! You forget a very important step! Getting into the sauna for 15 minutes-20 minutes.
When we talk about post workout and recovery, saunas should be a prime part of that equation. Hopping in the sauna can help speed up muscle recovery (Selsby et al) and also helps regrow damaged muscle. The study further concluded that saunas have been shown to help increase muscle size in injured muscle tissue (Selsby et al.)
How Does It Work?
The high heat of the sauna releases endorphins, which relax your muscles and soothe pains and aches in both muscles and joints. The endorphin release is similar to a “runner’s high.” As the body temperature rises in the heat of the sauna, blood vessels open, or dilate, allowing for increased blood circulation, which in turn speeds the body’s natural healing process. The sauna promotes muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and it also eliminates lactic acid and other toxins that may be present.
Sauna use post workout is so beneficial, it is also the choice of high performing athletes and olympians. Check out these videos on how they use sauna for recovery after intense workouts: Dan Gable (NCAA & Olympic Wrestling), Darby Hendrickson (NHL), Conrad Anker (The North Face Mountain Climbing Team), Nooralotta Neziri (World Track and Field), Dany Heatley (NHL All-Star), Gwen Jorgensen (Gold Medal Triathlon Olympian).
Selsby JT, Rother S, Tsuda S, Pracash O, Quindry J, Dodd SL. Intermittent hyperthermia enhances skeletal muscle regrowth and attenuates oxidative damage following reloading. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Apr;102(4):1702-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2006. Epub 2006 Nov 16. PMID: 17110516.