Benefits Of Sauna After Workout
Using a sauna enhances the muscle recovery process by increasing blood circulation and carrying oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-depleted muscle. Heat also allows muscles to relax better, thus relieving muscle tension.
I am usually asked about what is the best way to recover from workouts in order to get stronger or faster. The answer is that it depends on your goals for each workout session. If you are simply looking for ways to lose weight then doing less repetitions with moderate weights will be more effective than trying to do high volume sets with heavy weights. However if you want to build strength (and have enough time) then lifting lighter weights repetitively may not be as effective as using heavier weights but fewer reps. This article discusses why I believe that after a hard workout, taking a short break of 10 minutes in a sauna is beneficial to help recover quicker. It has been my experience that this extra step helps me feel much better when I return to training again.
First let’s discuss how heat can benefit us. When we exercise our body produces lactic acid which causes pain and irritation. By sweating out through pores, the lactic acid is removed from the muscle tissues and transported away from them, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. As the lactic acid travels away, it takes up space in the blood vessels narrowing their diameter and reducing the amount of room available for other substances such as glucose, sodium and water. This leads to an increase in plasma osmolality causing dehydration of muscle cells, leading to cramps and soreness. As well, the increased temperature during exercise actually reduces the ability of the heart muscle to contract, slowing down its rate (the same reason why people faint easily when they are overheated). In addition, the temperature drop at night while sleeping results in cold feet and lower back pains due to blood pooling in these areas.
In contrast, a hot bath is only slightly dehydrating resulting in limited effects on plasma osmolality. Also because there is no sweat involved, the skin does not become irritated like it would from running or even walking outside without proper clothing. Hot baths tend not to cause problems with the heart muscle contraction rates since the temperature remains relatively constant throughout the day. And lastly, a sauna keeps the core body temperature elevated for longer periods of time than either a hot shower or a cool dip in the pool, providing the ideal environment for the body to fully recuperate and repair itself.
Now that we know how heat can improve recovery, let’s look at some benefits of saunas. First off, the heat promotes rapid removal of waste products, including lactate and hydrogen ions, from the exercising muscles. This prevents the accumulation of acidic wastes within the muscle fibers and subsequent damage to the muscle tissue. Secondly, the heat increases muscle flexibility and range of motion. Most people find that they can stretch more effectively while inside a sauna. Finally, heat stimulates muscle protein metabolism, which occurs as long as adequate nutrition is provided.
So now that we understand how heat improves recovery, let’s take a closer look at how it affects the post-workout period. One of the most important factors affecting the effectiveness of any type of physical activity is hydration level. For example, dehydration impairs performance and makes working out harder than necessary. Conversely, replenishing lost fluids is essential for optimal performance. A good indicator of whether one is adequately hydrated is to check his urine color. While all colors are acceptable, yellow means you need to drink more. Dehydration is a serious problem for athletes who participate in extreme sports, military personnel, and workers in professions involving strenuous activity. These are situations where the risk of dehydration becomes especially acute.
One of the major reasons for dehydration is the lack of fluid intake during the work-up period before exercising. To prevent this situation, make sure to use plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, particularly if you are going to go outdoors. Another reason for dehydration is that many people don’t realize they’re becoming dehydrated until it’s too late. Many people mistake the symptoms of mild dehydration for hunger pangs or fatigue. They ignore the fact that thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of hydration status. Symptoms include dry mouth, headaches, irritability, nausea, weakness, exhaustion, confusion, poor judgment, and disorientation.
The solution is simple: Drink lots of water! Drinking eight glasses of water per day is recommended for overall health. Water should be consumed regularly throughout the day rather than just before bedtime. Since the average person drinks less than half of the required daily amount, drinking more water is critical for healthy living. Furthermore, people who weigh over 100 pounds should consume two-thirds of their body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 200 pound man needs 80 ounces of water per day. This number is based on the assumption that he uses 2 liters of water per day and weighs 200 pounds. If this calculation seems difficult, try converting ounces to milliliters. An ounce contains approximately 28 milliliters so multiply the number of ounces by 0.28 to convert to milliliters.
Although a lot of research indicates that staying properly hydrated is vital for athletic success, few studies have examined the effect of dehydration on specific types of exercise. Several studies have shown that dehydration decreases endurance capacity and performance. Other researchers have found that dehydration doesn’t affect short bursts of speed, agility, or power. There are conflicting data regarding the impact of dehydration on muscular force production. Some studies show that dehydration impairs maximal strength; others indicate that dehydration has little effect on maximal strength.
When you consider all these facts together, it becomes clear that hydration status is very important. Proper hydration is crucial for preventing dehydration. Therefore consuming appropriate amounts of water is absolutely necessary for performing at peak levels. Taking a sauna provides a unique opportunity for a quick, convenient, and inexpensive method for restoring hydration levels. Here are some guidelines for determining how often to take a sauna:
* If you train 3 days per week then once every three weeks is sufficient.
* If you train 5 days per week then once every four weeks is sufficient.
* If you train 7 days per week then once every five weeks is sufficient.
* If you train 9 days per week then once every six weeks is sufficient.
As an additional safety measure, please consult your physician before beginning any new program. He/she can provide valuable information about the appropriateness of your current regimen, recommend alternatives, and educate you about potential risks.
Saunas are safe environments. The main thing to remember is that if you start feeling dizzy, weak, lightheaded, nauseous, flushed, sweaty, confused, chilled, or thirsty, stop immediately. You could potentially pass out. If you think you might have a medical condition that requires immediate medical attention, seek professional care right away. If you have questions regarding your fitness routine, please contact a certified personal trainer.
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