Posted on March 15, 2017 by Kim Mead

Using a sauna has always been a place where individuals love to unwind and have some to time to relax post or even prior to workouts. However, not every individual is aware of the benefits or even negatives that can come from using the sauna prior to or post workout and also may be unaware of which is the more effective time of use.

One of the main reason individuals will use the sauna prior to working out involves the thought of getting your muscles to be relaxed or loosened up prior to physical activity. Using this strategy also has its cons – if an individual stays in the sauna for too long, they run the risk of their muscles becoming too relaxed and not being able to be used as efficiently as they should do. Therefore, if you plan to use the sauna prior to working out, make sure the time spent in there is brief.

For most people, using the sauna post workout can be more effective. A benefit of using the sauna post workout is, again, how it increases metabolism. Time spent in the sauna allows your metabolism to be at a higher rate for a prolonged period of time.

An added benefit of sauna use post workout involves its effect on the sweating out of toxins. When exercising, lactic acid can build up in the muscles, therefore use of the sauna after working out will aid in the release of these toxins at a quicker pace. This means the recovery of the muscles is sped up due to the high amount of heat coming from the sauna.

The most important factor when it comes to the effectiveness of the sauna involves hydration. Dagnelli (2015), who is a journalist for the LiveStrong Foundation, mentions that water needs to be a consideration prior to venturing into the sauna. They state that we lose a lot of water when sweating or even breathing. She suggests that if we use the sauna prior to exercise, we risk dehydration. So always remember – drink water before, during and after sauna use.

To conclude, use of the sauna can have benefits for workouts, whether it be pre or post. However due to the fact that there are some risks that can occur when using the sauna prior to workouts, including dehydration prior to physical activity and overly relaxed muscles, the better option may be to use the sauna after your workout.

Julian Debrah and Sukhdeep Grewal, Dickens Yard Spa Team

References:
Dagnelli, C. (2015) http://www.livestrong.com/article/67560-use-dry-sauna/
Hannuksela, M. L., & Ellahham, S. (2001). Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American journal of medicine, 110(2), 118-126.
Petruzzello, S. J., Landers, D. M., Hatfield, B. D., Kubitz, K. A., & Salazar, W. (1991). A meta-analysis on the anxiety-reducing effects of acute and chronic exercise. Sports medicine, 11(3), 143-182.