Athletes subject to weight class sports may be concerned about the amount of time it takes to rehydrate following an exercise. Because athletes lose fluid through sweat, there is a theoretical concern that the addition of further fluid losses (through increased urination) could hinder their attempts at rehydration.
Fluid balance testing has shown that individuals achieve optimal hydration in four hours. However, there is no discernible difference between consuming fluids before and after using the sauna during this time frame.
Benefits of Sauna Before Workout
Some athletes feel that they benefit from sauna exposure before workouts due to the sauna increasing blood flow and delivering more oxygen to muscles. There is limited research on this topic, but athletes concerned about their performance may want to try sauna exposure before working out.
Benefits of Sauna After Workout
Many athletes use sauna exposure after workouts for relaxation and stress relief. The sauna can help relax tired muscles or promote an endorphin rush that may be helpful to the athlete’s mood. Some other benefits are;
1. It may improve relaxation
Sauna has been shown to offer benefits related to stress and depression. Some studies also show that individuals who use sauna regularly may have improved relaxation responses and overall ability to cope with stress.
2. Sauna exposure may help reduce inflammation and soreness
Some studies have shown that sauna exposure can improve recovery from intense workouts while reducing the amount of inflammation and soreness experienced.
3. Sauna may improve recovery after exercise by increasing blood flow to muscles
Although more research is needed, some studies have shown that sauna exposure can increase blood flow to muscles and improve recovery. This may be beneficial for athletes who regularly engage in exercise.
4. It may lower heart rate and blood pressure
Sauna exposure has been shown to help lower blood pressure and resting heart rate. This is also important for athletes, as having a low resting heart rate means that the athlete’s body does not have to work as hard at rest. Therefore, they can concentrate on their training.
5. It improves sleep quality
Regular sauna exposure can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, improve mood, and act sedative. All of these things may be helpful for athletes who are trying to recover or perform well on game day.
6. It can reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle recovery
Regular sauna exposure has been shown to help reduce the sensation of muscle soreness and also may play a role in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (which is experienced after strenuous exercise).
This may be important for athletes who want to use training as a means of improving their performance without experiencing too much physical wear and tear.
There is also some evidence to suggest that a sauna after a workout can increase blood flow. This means that it may be beneficial for athletes to take advantage of the sauna after working out because they are already at a heightened blood flow level, making nutrient delivery to muscles even more efficient.
So which one is it then? Before or After?
It does not matter whether an individual chooses to use the sauna before or after their workout. They both produce similar physiological responses, so athletes should choose one method over the other depending on their personal preferences.
How Long Should You Be In the Sauna?
Significant benefits from sauna exposure may only occur with extended use, so athletes should make sure to spend enough time in the sauna to achieve those benefits.
It’s been suggested that individuals who are interested in using a sauna as a recovery method after workouts should plan to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes per session.
How to Use Sauna Bathing to Boost Your Workouts
Are you interested in giving it a shot? Here’s how you can gain these sauna benefits.
1. Start Slow
Individuals new to sauna exposure should start with 1-2 sessions per week, mainly if they have never used the sauna before.
2. Increase Duration Gradually
It’s also essential that individuals gradually increase the duration of their sauna exposure over time, not all at once. Sauna sessions should last 15 to 20 minutes each.
3. Be Balanced
Spending too much time in the sauna can cause dehydration, which is not good for athletes trying to remain hydrated during their workouts. Athletes should also drink plenty of water before, during, and after the sauna session to avoid dehydration effects.
4. Stay Calm
A sauna session can be relaxing and therapeutic, but athletes need to make sure that they don’t spend too much time in the sauna and get too relaxed. This could impact athletic performance on game day.
5. Take a Shower
It’s also essential for athletes to take a cool shower after their sauna session. This will help them cool off and return their body’s physiological processes to normal.
6. Perform Well
Athletes should consider using a sauna to improve their overall performance, but they mustn’t neglect proper training and conditioning methods in the process. Sauna use alone may not be enough to attain their performance goals.
Using the sauna is an excellent way for athletes to increase their physical performance, but they must remember not to take it too far. Sauna exposure has many benefits for individuals, but overuse may be harmful instead.
Weight loss is another benefit of sauna use, but athletes must remember that they still need to achieve the right balance with their workouts to lose weight effectively.