One of the most frequent questions in the gym and spa community is whether one should use the sauna before or after a workout. People have started sharing their own experiences, but everybody seems to have a different theory. Some prefer a sauna session before the actual workout, others, however, prefer to relax and enjoy the heat after they’re done with their workout. If you’re one of the people that is torn between these two strategies, then you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll try to explore and look into both strategies and hopefully reach a conclusion you can find satisfying.
Sauna Before Workout
The majority of people who are using the sauna before workout claim that the heat and humidity actually help their muscles relax completely. In turn, their exercise session seemed more fruitful, and their performance much better. Some even consider the session at the sauna to act as a workout warm-up and an excellent preparation to break a sweat in the gym; this serves as an excellent replacement for the exercise-based warm-up. However, other people complained about having their muscles too relaxed. Some of them even claim that exposure to heat and humidity made their muscles loose and prone to muscle strain and injury during the actual workout.
Even so, many argue that going to the sauna first and then to the gym is the right way to do things. Either way, those well-trained, and those who are only starting to seem to be more in favor of a sauna session before the workout. There was even a study where runners sat in the sauna for 30 minutes, four times a week, before their running session. The results showed an increase in their performance by 32 percent. Of course, not everybody is guaranteed to see such a high percentage in performance improvement, but you get the picture.
Sauna After Workout
Now, of course, some people prefer a relaxing sauna session after an exhausting workout session. This actually makes perfect sense, as one’s body gets rather tired, and a sauna session can help the muscles relax and loosen up, as well as the rest of the body and mind. Overall, by using the sauna after a workout, you are making the muscles recover faster and you are definitely helping the body get rid of all the toxins and waste in your body by sweating it out. The heat and humidity also help remove all the waste the body usually builds up in the muscles and joints during the workout. Moreover, the heat at the sauna is surely going to keep your heart rate going even after the workout is done, which basically means a prolonged workout. So, your after -the- workout session can function as a light cardio session as well.
On the other hand, what has beneficial effects usually has its own downsides, just like the use of sauna after a workout does. As mentioned above, the sauna can help the body get rid of toxins and wastes that build up during the workout. However, that very waste can be carried by the blood to the surface of the skin, and might actually stay there, causing skin problems. Moreover, there is always a risk of dehydration and overheating, as your blood circulation and body heat is already increased because of the workout. As much as relaxing a sauna can be, it can cause great stress for your body, so it is extremely important to drink plenty of fluids prior to the sauna, and after you’re done with it. If not done, a session at the sauna can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Additionally, getting plenty of rest should be a no brainer in this case.
So, Which Is Better?
People’s experiences and advice seem to be in favor of both strategies; everyone seems to be choosing what works best for them. Both, sauna before or after workout strategies have their benefits and downsides, therefore, it is important to see which one works best for you individually. For example, if you have heart issues or high blood pressure, you should be using the sauna before the workout. On the other hand, if you have muscles or joints that are prone to muscle strain or injury, you should be visiting the sauna after the workout. Overall, for healthy people, both strategies should be completely safe and good to practice. But, for people who suffer muscle or joint aches, redness, swelling, lightheadedness or nausea, sauna and workout should be enjoyed separately, just to avoid any adverse and unpredictable effects. Of course, regardless of which strategy one chooses, it is important to follow the sauna etiquette; if you suffer from heart conditions, or you consume alcohol regularly, you should avoid sauna as a whole, as it might increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and many other health problems.