Rest, Recovery and Regeneration Part III

So what about the dry sauna?
There are two basic styles of saunas: conventional saunas that warm the air and infared that warm objects. Infrared saunas may use various materials in their heating area such as charcoal, active carbon fibers or other materials. The temeprature in saunas genraly run betweeen 158 degrees and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see the container of water with the ladle in it to pour water on the hot stones to increase the temperature. Don’s stand too close to the rocks as you are pouring the water on them, the rising steam can buring the inside of your nose! I have done that before…ouch! 
Spending time in the suana is sometimes called “sauna bathing.” Long-term sauna bathing may help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve the left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. There are temporary improvements in pulmonary function that occur in the sauna may provide some relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis. Sauna bathing may also alleviate pain and improve joint mobility in patients with rheumatic disease, decrease pain, enhance relaxation and increased cicculation. 
Contraindications to sauna bathing include unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction, severe aortic stenosis, pregnancy, high or low blood presssure or being under the age of 16. Sauna bathing is safe, however, for most people with coronary heart disease with stable angina pectoris or old myocardial infarction. Very few acute myocardial infarctions and sudden deaths occur in saunas, but alcohol consumption during sauna bathing increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death, and should be avoided. Stay off the sauce in the hydrotherapy areas in general!
I am pretty sure Homer would have a can of Duff in there if he could!
So there is more scientific research avaiable on dry saunas that steam rooms, but it woud make sense to me that some of the benefits weould cross over from the two modalities. External heat causes the body to try and regulate internal temperature. Pores open, sweat comes out, breathing changes.
Make sure to cool down at the end. A shower is s nice touch and helps to return the body to homeostasis as well. 

Can this help with your rest, recovery or regeneration? Recovery and regeneration for sure. Heck it may even help to improve athletic enhancement!


One study found that “that 3 weeks of post-exercise sauna bathing produced a worthwhile enhancement of endurance running performance, probably by increasing blood volume.”
Here are a few of the studies that I found on PubMed.  incidence of common cold decreased
I had to click on the one about mother roasting. I envisioned some sort of canibalistic sauna ceremnoy and I had to know more. Fortunately it is therepeutic for the mom. Mother roasting is often done to ‘dry out’, cease expulsion of lochia, restore the uterus to its pre-pregnancy condition and to alleviate postpartum abdominal pain. It is supposed to help the mother heal after giving birth. Enough about that…
Another creepy thing about steam rooms and suanas is that scene in Estern Promises with Viggo Mortenson.
If you have seen the movie you know what I am talking about, if not…starts out with some promise but ends poorly in my opinion, but I digress…yet again…
So suana bathing may offer improved recovery from workouts. Studies suggest that 15 minutes in a sauna provides physiological effects that would take 2 hours of rest to achieve. If an athlete can recover from a bout of training more rapidly, that is an advantage in my book.

Saunas may stimulate the release of growth hormone too. Direct heat for 8-10 minutes relaxes muscles and improves local and general blood flow. Saunas reduce the likelihood of neurotic reactions, improve sleep, and normalize metabolic processes. This promotes the excretion of toxins (cadmium, lead, zinc, nickel, sodium, sulfuric acid, and cholesterol) through perspiration via the vasodilatation of sweat glands. If the toxins are not eliminated, fatigue lingers and affects CNS stimulation.

More good news for sauna bathing. Just remember…plenty of H2O before, during (if you can) and after.
I’ve got more to say in my next post or two which will include contrast therapy and an overview of the effectiveness of several recovery and regeneration techniques. So I’m going to log off and get some sleep.
Thanks for reading my post! 
Eric Beard
Corrective Exercise Specialist
Integrated Manual Therapist
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One Comment

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