One topic that is brought up every year in the wrestling world is the SAUNA. It was banned by the NCAA and still is to this day. Each year the topic gets brought up about how using the sauna correctly can only help our athletes and not hinder them. Saunas are used all over the world by many people. In many countries the sauna house or spa is a daily routine. When I spent weeks over in Russian training, every Sunday we would go to the sauna house and spend all afternoon cleansing our mind, body, and soul. Saunas have many benefits not just for athletes but for everybody.
Sweating has been used as a therapy for thousands of years. Mayans used sweat house 3,000 years ago for religious ceremonies and to promote good health, according to Harvard Health Publications. There are many different types of saunas but regardless of which one you use they all have similar health benefits. They ease pain, improve stress, and increase your heart health. When a person sits in a sauna your heart rate increases and blood vessels widen. It is very similar to doing moderate exercise with low impact on the body. The increased blood circulation and decrease of inflammation in the body helps reduce muscle soreness, improve joint movement, and ease pain.
In Finland they did a study following 2,315 men from the age range of 42-60 over 20 years. The participants who sauna two to three times a week were 22 percent less likely to have sudden cardiac deaths to those who used it once a week. Those who used it four to seven times a week were 63 percent less likely to sudden cardiac death and 50 percent less to die from cardiovascular diseases than those who sauna once a week. There are a few assumptions of to why this may be. One is the reduced stress level that are caused from the relaxation of using a sauna and the association of lower blood pressure from an enhanced functioning heart. Another is that saunas are often done communally and help you bond with others.
For me personally I use a sauna after workouts to help reduce the soreness and inflammation from a workout. I feel it helps me recover faster and allows me to put multiple hard training sessions together without beating up my body. On an off day from my training I use the sauna as a workout tool to increase my heart rate and get a good sweat in while not having high impact on my body and joints. I also use it to help relax my mind and flush the toxins from my body. When used right and for the right reason daily use of a sauna can only increase your health.
Russian Sauna (Off Day or Recovery Workout)
16-18min relax and reflect (quiet time)
5min break (hot/cold contrast shower)
10-12min (sit/relax/hang with friends)
5min break (hot cold contrast shower and drink hot tea)
8-10min (sit/relax/hang with friends)
5min break (hot/cold contrast shower and drink hot tea)
6min (sit/relax/hang with friends)
Finish up with drinking a lot of water throughout the day and eating lots of fresh fruit!
*Do not drink any fluids until after the second sauna sit.