It’s well known that saunas offer several health benefits, from reducing aches and pains to flushing out toxins. But many people don’t realize that regular sauna sessions are also essential for athletes.
Heat exposure triggers many body changes as exercise, including increased heart rate, sweat production, and blood flow to the skin. This is called hyperthermic conditioning and has been shown to boost endurance performance.
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Sauna sessions, like in residential sauna heaters, are relaxing for athletes, enabling them to leave the gym feeling refreshed and ready to go. It also helps relieve muscle aches and pains from exercise and can soothe lactic acid build-up in muscles and joints.
In addition, sauna use has been linked to increased endorphins, the natural painkillers in our bodies. These hormones are also thought to help reduce stress and improve overall mood.
According to research, sauna training boosts performance in runners and cyclists. Runners in the study who consistently used sauna sessions after training improved their time to exhaustion by 30%.
It’s a Recovery Tool
Athletes must recover from strenuous training; sessions in custom sauna rooms are essential to a recovery routine. The dry heat and the release of endorphins can help athletes relax and loosen up muscles.
Infrared saunas are incredibly effective, so many athletes use them regularly.
After a sauna session, drinking plenty of water to rehydrate and replenish the electrolytes lost during the sweat is essential. Eating a light, salty snack to refuel your body is also good.
It’s a Heat Acclimation Tool
When paired with exercise, saunas are a fantastic tool to acclimate your body to heat. This hyperthermic conditioning, or adapting to heat independent of aerobic physical activity through sauna use, induces several beneficial changes to your body that improve your endurance level.
Among these are increased blood flow and plasma volume to your muscles and heart (which strengthens endurance) alongside muscle mass gains.
To maximize the health benefits of sauna use, it’s best to start slow and gradually work up to longer sessions. Start with 10-15 minutes per session and let your body adjust to the heat.
It’s a Recovery Tool
Sauna sessions are a recovery tool that helps athletes recover from strenuous workouts and long training periods. They improve blood flow, reducing muscle glycogen use and increasing endurance.
They can also help with muscle growth and repair. The heat from a sauna stimulates the release of heat shock proteins, which degrade free radicals and repair damaged cells.
The improved blood flow also helps fuel athletic performance by delivering oxygen throughout the body. This results in increased plasma volume (the liquid part of your blood) and red blood cell count, which can boost performance and endurance.
It’s a Training Tool
For athletes, sauna sessions are a vital part of their training. They can help athletes achieve their goals by boosting endurance, enhancing recovery, and reducing stress.
A study found that repeat sauna use after workouts in distance runners increased the time it took them to run to exhaustion by 30%.
Break up your sauna session into short bouts of 15 minutes or more for the best results. This is especially helpful if you’re new to the sauna experience.