Just about every gym you visit will provide members access to a sauna, so it's easy to conclude that saunas are probably good for your muscles. However, like many fitness strategies, it's all in how you use a sauna that will determine how saunas can help with sore muscles.
It's hard to argue that relaxing in a sauna is an excellent way to relax, but how much does it help your body? Keep reading to find out.
How Saunas Help Your Muscles
JAMA Internal Medicine published results in 2015 detailing the heart health and sauna use of 2,315 men over 20 years. Men who used a sauna between four to seven times per week had the lowest mortality rates, and men who used the sauna the most showed a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death and all-cause mortality. [source]
We know that saunas are a fantastic way to relax, but do they help muscle recovery? Yes, as far as the research goes, saunas can help with sore muscles. In addition to repairing damaged proteins in the muscles, hyperthermia (heat therapy) also protects against oxidative stress.
Sauna time may also increase muscle mass, as this study shows that time in the sauna may reduce muscle breakdown while promoting muscle growth. [source] As well, a 1988 study showed increased growth hormone levels after using a sauna, and a 2007 study revealed benefits to insulin sensitivity.
Time in the sauna also triggers the release of norepinephrine, which may help protect against brain conditions like Alzheimer's and migraines.
The timing might be a factor when using a sauna to relax and find relief from sore muscles. Physical therapist Patrick Walsh says using a sauna immediately after a hard workout might not be the best idea. Heat accelerates the heart rate, so it's a lot like a moderate workout. Walsh recommends you give your heart time to get back to normal before jumping into a sauna after a workout. [source]
Using saunas according to best practices and drinking plenty of water is a proven safe way to relax, improve your skin appearance, increase your overall well-being, and even relieve muscle pain. Learn more about how you can benefit from a sauna in the comfort of your own home by visiting our website today.