Regular Sauna Use Accelerates Athlete Recovery & Increases Performance
Feb 01, 2019
Becky Wade, author of Run the World, about global running cultures, recommends that runners use saunas for their 2019 running resolutions. After spending a month in Finland, she discovered that saunas can be just as restorative as ice baths, foam rollers, and other recovery methods.
Research suggests that the potential health benefits offered by saunas include improved circulation, reduced blood pressure, pain and stress relief and higher heat tolerance. Not bad for a fitness recovery method that doesn’t leave you aching or frozen for hours afterwards!
Becky suggests starting with a sauna session once or twice a week. Monitor how you feel during and after, and adjust accordingly. Hydrate extra well, and hop out if at any point you start to feel dizzy.
In addition to recovery, regular sauna use may improve runners’ performance as well. In one study, a small group of male distance runners decreased their 5K time by nearly 2 percent after only three weeks of using a sauna after training for 30 minutes, four times per week.
Also, when pairing the sauna with the cold plunge, the sustained increased heart rate between two extremes essentially makes it an extension of time spent in the gym rather than a relaxing time at the spa. The body reduces lactic acid buildup in muscles, induces heat shock proteins and human growth hormone, and releases several other hormones like norepinephrine.
More and more research shows that regular sauna use results in a body that can endure more exertion and recover faster.