Im going to build on my previous posts about after-training regeneration (Foamrolling and Rest Day) by focusing on another passive regeneration that is perfect for days like we have now, days when staying bundled up in bed sounds better than hitting the cold gym, sauna.
Visiting a sauna brings much more that the well known positives for our organisms, such as relaxing our minds and helping our immune systems. For sports people like us, sauna has an interesting impact on recovery and preps us for another training session.
When to implement it
Should you go to the sauna before you train, after or on your rest day? The answer is not a simple one. You need to realise what you expect from the visit in the first place. If you aim to recover, you should visit the sauna at a certain time after you train or on your rest day. If you want to work on your endurance, go to there immediately after you work out. If you work on your lifting and want to increase in your strength you should stop by before you train. “When you are recovering from a work out, your heartbeat should go back to normal. Staying in the sauna for more than 5 minutes however maintains your heartrate. In fact, it is a form of passive exercise that will delay the start of the regeneration process,” Patrick Walsh a well know physiotherapist. So the better option is to go to a sauna before you work out and start your “warm up” there.
Sauna and lifting
This place is great for lifters. They should not visit the sauna right after they work out though. Thermal therapy it offers stimulates hormone production, helps to rid the body of toxins and improves overall cardiovascular health. During a session, our bodies respond, among other things, by eliminating a number of hormones. The warmth stimulates heat shock proteins that help muscle growth. The growth hormone also helps to regenerate muscles and bones and speed up recovery time after injuries.
Sauna and endurance
People who are into endurance sports like running, cycling or triathlon, feel the positive effects of sauna right away. It helps them to improve their endurance. Just think of all the processes that happen in our bodies when we run. Along with physical stress our body temperature increases. So we can hit the saune to help us get used to heat. This results in increased blood plasma volume in the body, blood flow to our hearts and muscles, and muscle mass due to higher levels of protein and the growth hormone, respectively.
Sauna as recovery
It is great for recovery after an injury and it helps speed up the after surgery process. During an injury we often are not allowed to be active in any way. Which means that the injured individual losses his endurance and muscles. Visiting a sauna can help avoid this by reducing the atrophy rate and loss of muscle mass. It also helps return to your sport faster. Heat reduces the amount of oxidation in the body and promotes growth of muscle tissue.
From the above facts, it is clear that the sauna and sport go hand in hand. So make a habit of sweating inside and outside of the gym on a regular basis and see if your body responds to the load better, regenerates faster, and is more resistant to adverse weather conditions.