Saunas have been in use for over 2,000 years. Most scholars trace their origins to the Finnish and Romans. However, discoveries in Central America indicate that the Mayan culture may have used sauna-like environments a millennium or so prior to the Finnish and the Romans. Regardless of the origin, the practice and benefits are virtually unchanged.
What are the Benefits of a Sauna? Why should we take saunas? How does it feel?
- Improve circulation
- Relaxed and recovered muscles
- Quieted mind, relief from stress
The sauna is not the same as a steam bath. It is a drier heat vs a cloudy room of steam. The sauna bather pours water on heated rocks to create humidity and promote perspiration. Steam rooms get to about 1300 F with 100% humidity whereas Saunas are wood environments heated to 1600 F to 2000 F. After water is poured on the rocks the humidity level will rise to about 50% briefly then heat dissipates the moisture.
The humidity created by pouring water on the rocks initiates the body's perspiration process which promotes the cleansing of the body – pores of the skin open, impurities are flushed form the body, metabolic and pulse rates increase, blood vessels become more flexible, extremities receive the benefit of increased circulation and blood carries its nutrients throughout the system.
It is largely the surface temperature of the body that increases. As it increases, blood vessels dilate and circulation in the skin climbs. As resistance to blood flow through your veins and capillaries drops, your blood pressure goes down. This increases your heartbeat to keep blood pressure normal. Persons with heart problems and pregnant women should not use the sauna.
Physical training sessions can clog the muscles with waste products such as lactic, pyruvic, and succinic acid. The function of using a sauna is "vasodilation" through which perspiration eliminates toxins from the muscle. Also, as muscles recover from workouts, the restorative qualities of heat therapy and blood circulation offers healing qualities through your system. The whole process also helps your body fight off germs.
Many feel a sauna is an ultimate cleanliness solution since the manner in which one perspires eliminates dead skin, stale body oil and sebum from the system. If it isn’t already, then sauna should become an important part of everyone's workout regimen who seeks fitness, health and quality of life.
A sauna session not only helps with physical relaxation but mental recovery and rejuvenation too as that follows the physical recovery of the body. Many practitioners confirm the healing powers of the sauna concerning mental depression and anxiety. One's mental state can be improved because of the physical changes a sauna session generates. Post-sauna contentment lasts for hours, something you can enjoy any time of the day.
The detoxification process in a sauna is simple and non-invasive. It clears out excess waste, dead cells and revitalizes the body's natural healing capacities while increasing energy. Your fitness performance and daily routines will be enhanced from detoxification by sauna use leading to an improvement in your overall health.
Brunner and Tabachnik in their book, Soviet Training and Recovery Methods, advocate the use of sauna baths as a critical restorative tactic: “Research studies using sauna as the means of restoration show that it is effective at increasing work capability and accelerating restoration. The heat from a sauna produces a good physical action on the body by increasing temperature exchange and functions of the central nervous system, improving blood flow, sweat gland activity, and skin porosity.” Soviet researchers also used a sauna to improve the function of the kidneys, exert a healing action for many diseases, and facilitate a faster healing of muscle injuries. Sauna is especially valuable to weight lifters and endurance athletes who demand accelerated recovery from high physical loads.